I thought the one thing this year we did a good job of was creating a culture of energy of enthusiasm that became a style of which we played. Even though it wasnt expressed in our win and loss record, I was pleased with the effort and the attitude the kids played with. I didnt think I could ever enjoy a 17-39 record, and with this group I did. I told them I did and as coaches we did. We knew they were giving their best effort, they never gave up and fought to the end of every game. I appreciate that. By the wins and losses standard it was a devastation year, but by the standard of talent level and the way the guys competed, the effort they gave, and the way the changed the culture of this program, I thought it was good. Now they have a certain expectation of how to play the game when the put on a Terps uniform then now those pieces of the foundation are solidified, now the next the thing to do is create a culture of winning. The only way to create that culture is to win baseball games. The way to win baseball games is with talented players. We have to add talented players to that energy, at which we play, and that will help us win ball games.
The added talented comes in the form of nine of the nineteen players being named to Perfect Games Preseason All American team. The class includes the 98th, 125th and 145th best players in the 2010 class. Coach Bakich believes these talented players will make an immediate impact to the program. When its all said and done we could have up to twenty-five coming in next year. We bring back a core group of players that are veterans and did a good job. Add the new talent with the core group of player, who established that culture of energy, and I think we got something. I think we can start that winning tradition, and I think we can shatter some of the records established within this program. I dont think we need to wait around, and wait for a couple more recruiting classes to come in. I think if we pinpoint our needs, recruit against the best teams in the country, and get the best players in the country to get here, I do not see why we have to wait. I have been apart of programs where the first recruiting class comes in and the program gets an influx of talents and they create a culture change.
There were definitely some memorable moments for Coach Bakich from this past season. The Terps were able to take down some of the top teams in the country in dramatic fashion. When the Terps squared off against number three Georgia Tech on March 19th, Dan Gentzler single handily beat them with a two-run homerun and a save. On April 2nd against North Carolina the Terps faced Matt Harvey, one of the best pitchers in the country and came from behind to win 6-5 on a walk-off homerun by Adam Kolarek in the bottom of the tenth. Coach Bakich described those types of games as great where a pitch, a swing or a defensive play decided games and we were on the positive end.
The notable performers for Coach Bakich and the Terps this season were both pitchers and fielders alike. I thought Brett Harman was a staple of consistency on our pitching staff. He gave us a chance to win, competed well, and was very aggressive. He threw three pitches for strikes to right handers and left handers. I thought Brandon Padula statistically had a good year, he cooled off towards the end, but if you looked at his body of work he had a good year. I thought Alfredo Rodriguez was probably our most consistent position player. He was a catalyst as a lead off hitter, a great base stealer, and great defensively. I thought he was very consistent in that regard. The last guy is Jack Cleary. I though Jack was the trademark of our team motto, Will Over Skill. He was the student manager a year before, and never played. He was our everyday catcher. He worked harder than anyone and I thought he competed very well.
I think the guys the mentioned, along with Eric Potter, Adam Kolarek, and Sander Beck have the potential to improve upon the years they had this year. I think there is a lot of potential for those guys to solidify a core group of guys to work with the newcomers to make a pretty good team.
The conclusion of this season also concluded Coach Bakichs first season as Head Coach. He had very positive remarks about his first season. I enjoyed a 17 and 39 record as much as I could. I thought with a record like that it would be very frustrating, but it was quite the opposite. It was very rewarding to see a group of guys to be out manned and number against every single team we played to be able to fight the way the did, to build the confidence the way they did, and to become a unit, a team. Nothing else these guys created a culture and set the tone for the program. Once we were mathematically eliminated from the ACC tournament, I told the team that they didnt need the ACC tournament to show they had changed the culture here. Anyone that comes to watch us play knows its a different style of play, a much more aggressive style. That is a testament to the seniors, who bought into the change.
That change in style should have the Terps in a position to succeed next year and to reach the ACC tournament. Coach Bakich definitely believes the Terps belong in the tournament. When August 31 roles around its going to be an expectation for Maryland to be in the ACC tournament. I dont believe there should be an ACC tournament without Maryland, and that is the mindset we have to believe in.