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Maryland hires John Szefc as new baseball coach

It didn't take long for Maryland to find its new baseball coach.

John Szefc, who was last an assistant coach at Kansas State, was named to the position Wednesday, less than a month after former coach Erik Bakich announced he was leaving to coach at Michigan.

"Erik [Bakich] did a really good job creating a strong foundation for this program," Szefc said. "Now it's my job to continue that and move our program ahead."

Szefc served as Kansas State's hitting coach for two years as the team advanced to an NCAA regional in 2011. The team finished 10th in school history with 564 hits for the season. Before that, he was a hitting coach at Kansas for two years, helping the Jayhawks claim two Big 12 Championship appearances and an NCAA regional berth in 2009.

"John has been successful in every position he's held during his 22-year coaching career," said Maryland athletic director Kevin Anderson in a news release. "He has proven himself as a successful head coach and a recruiter and developer of top talent. I have no doubt that John will do an outstanding job leading our baseball program."

This will be the second time in Szefc's career that he will be a head coach. He was the head coach at Marist College for seven years, leading the team to four conference championships and three NCAA regional appearances.

"This is exactly what I wanted to do," he said. "I was lucky enough to have success at Marist and lucky enough to have success at young age doing it. I am prepared to go back and do it again."

Last year, Maryland finished with a 32-24 record and went 10-20 in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Szefc said he was impressed with the program's signature non-conference wins over then 14th-ranked UCLA, but is aware more needs to be done to have success within the team's conference.

"It's going to take the best players possible and we need to have a real quality pitching staff," he said. "To have a top conference team, you have to have top conferences players."

Those players shouldn't be too hard for Szefc to find, as he has served as recruiting coordinator at his last three schools — Kansas State, Kansas and University of Louisiana-Lafayette.

"Recruiting [here] will be just a slight adjustment," Szefc said. "This time, I'll have to do it solely [as head coach]. It's just going to be a matter of getting back into it."

Maryland baseball director of operations Bernie Walter, who was part of the decision to hire Szefc, said recruiting was one of the biggest factors in his decision.

"Obviously he has a lot of experience with [recruiting]," Walter said. "That was a major factor in my decision. … We are lucky to have a guy like John Szefc replace a guy like Erik Bakich."

Szefc is also aware of Maryland's recent cutbacks in the athletic department, as the school cut seven teams earlier this month. But he said that he is too focused on the upcoming season to worry about the school's current financial issues.

"I don't know as much about [the cuts] as others," he said. "I just know that I've studied this program and am fortunate for this opportunity. When any school drops a program it's unfortunate…

"I just have a lot of excitement and energy, It's just a matter of sculpting together the best team."


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