- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Ten years after leaving a head coaching position on the East Coast, John Szefc again has a team of his own.

The 44-year-old Kansas State assistant was named Maryland’s baseball coach Wednesday, filling a vacancy created late last month when Erik Bakich departed for Michigan.

It is Szefc’s second head coaching position. He was 212-137-1 with three NCAA tournament appearances between 1996 and 2002 at Marist.

“I’ve been an assistant for the last 10 years and drawn good experience off that, but my heart has always been in being a head coach and building my own program,” Szefc said. “I always kept an eye on different opportunities, for the most part on the East Coast in the Mid-Atlantic region. And lo and behold this whole thing came about.”

Szefc spent the last decade at UL Lafayette (2003-08), Kansas (2009-10) and Kansas State (2011-12). He was the recruiting coordinator at both UL Lafayette and Kansas, and served as Kansas State’s associate head coach.

Szefc, a native of Middletown, N.Y., who split his college career between Connecticut and Drexel, said he has spoken with several Maryland players since accepting the job and is eager to get to work in further building the Terrapins’ program.

“It’s definitely the type of place that you can recruit good, solid elite-level players that will help you win games in that conference,” Szefc said. “Regardless of anything else, that’s the most important thing. If you can’t do that — at any level — it’s not good. I think Erik showed that with the level of players he was able to bring in. He’s made it that much better.”

Bakich was 70-98 in three seasons in College Park, enduring two rough seasons before leading the Terps to a 32-24 mark this spring. It was the second-winningest season in school history.

Maryland possesses modest baseball tradition. The Terps have not reached the NCAA tournament since 1971 and have not earned a place in the eight-team ACC tournament since the league expanded to 12 teams in 2006.

However, Bakich’s recruiting, stadium and locker room improvements and the addition of an indoor hitting facility have created some optimism around the program — one that’s now in Szefc’s hands.

“I feel very fortunate for the opportunity,” Szefc said. “Over the last 17 years, I’ve very much prepared for this, having been on both sides of the fence and knowing that recruiting area well and having a good feel for sculpting a team on the field and putting assistant coaches in position to succeed.”

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