The Maryland baseball team has released its 56-game schedule for its 2014 season, which opens with a three-game series at Florida and is highlighted by two home series against Research Triangle powerhouses.
“One of our goals is to prepare our guys for the postseason,” second-year coach Jon Szefc said in a news release. “In order to do that, you have to play the level of competition you will encounter in a NCAA Tournament. Opening the season at Florida will definitely provide that atmosphere.
“Overall, I think our non-conference schedule compliments our conference schedule well and will put us in a good position come the postseason.”
The Terrapins are gunning for their first NCAA tournament appearance since 1971, but will certainly be tested along the way. Eight opponents qualified for the tournament last season, including the Gators (29-30), who made their sixth straight appearance and reached the NCAA regionals but missed out on the College World Series for the first time since 2009.
Maryland opens at Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium against Rider on Feb. 18 before hosting a three-game series with Bryant that weekend. The Terps have scheduled a home-and-home with local rival Towson and begin their ACC home schedule on March 14-16 against North Carolina, one week after traveling to Florida State. North Carolina State, led by ace and presumptive No. 1 overall pick Carlos Rodon, comes to College Park from March 21-13.
“The ACC will certainly challenge us as a team,” Szefc said. “The first month of our conference schedule is an example of that having to play at Florida State and hosting North Carolina, NC State and Clemson.”
Last season, the Terps finished 30-25 and 11-19 in the ACC, narrowly missing out on the conference tournament. They lost ace Jimmy Reed to the minor leagues — he spent the summer playing for the State College (Pa.) Spikes in the St. Louis Cardinals farm system — but return center fielder Charlie White, the conference leader in stolen bases, and senior pitcher Jake Stinnett, both of whom were drafted in the 29th round within 15 picks of each other.