McDonough set for season
KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Michael McDonough, a 2016 Crestview High School graduate, will suit up for the first time as an Ohio State baseball player today as the Buckeyes take on Kansas State at noon at Osceola County Stadium.
McDonough, a left-handed pitcher, holds the career Rebel record for strikeouts in a game (19), strikeouts in a season (92) and career (217). He was the Northeast Ohio Baseball Coaches Association Div. III Pitcher of the Year as well as second-team All-Ohio in 2016. He was 6-0 in nine starts with a 1.12 ERA, 110 strikeouts with 20 walks over 56 innings as a senior.
Maryland poised for big season
By ERIC OLSON
OMAHA, Neb. — With the conference’s preseason player of the year, two of the conference’s best starting pitchers and a lineup with starting experience at six positions, Maryland is poised to move from the middle of the pack to the top of the Big Ten.
“We had 14 freshmen on last year’s roster; it was a really young team,” coach John Szefc said. “A lot of that youth played a lot. That was a fair reason for a lot of the ups and downs that we had. We finished up strong, in the top four of the Big Ten postseason tournament, so it built a good foundation for this year.”
Maryland is picked first in the coaches’ preseason poll , followed by Michigan, Nebraska and Indiana.
The Terrapins are ranked as high as No. 22 in the major national polls after winning five of their last eight games in 2016 to finish 30-27.
Shortstop Kevin Smith was picked as preseason player of the year by several publications. He batted .259 with eight home runs and 34 RBIs as a sophomore and elevated his game in the summer. He was a Cape Cod League All-Star and was named Breakout Summer Prospect by D1Baseball.com.
The Terps bring back two junior pitchers who each logged more than 100 innings. Brian Shaffer (8-3, 2.60 ERA) and Taylor Bloom (6-5, 2.46) combined for 135 strikeouts against just 22 walks.
Second baseman Nick Dunn hit a team-leading .300, but the Terps will be looking for more offense after ranking 233rd out of 300 teams in batting, at .256.
Some things to watch in the Big Ten:
NAMES TO KNOW
Three players ready to make names for themselves: Left-hander Oliver Jaskie is set to lead Michigan’s staff after going 7-3 with a team-best 3.19 ERA. Michigan State pitcher-first baseman Alex Troop was 3-0 with a 1.64 ERA, striking out 14 in 11 innings, and hit .372 with 13 RBIs before an injury ended his season after 12 games. Ohio State outfielder Tre’ Gantt finished 2016 strong and wound up on ESPN’s “SportsCenter” May 29 with a diving catch in a conference tournament win over Michigan State.
Purdue’s Mark Wasikowski is the only new coach in the Big Ten. The former Oregon assistant takes over a program that has gone 60-149 (.287) over the last four years, including 20-75 (.210) in conference games. The Boilermakers’ four-year slide started after they won 45 games and hosted a regional in 2012 under Doug Schreiber.
PLAYING THE BEST
Penn State opens Friday at TCU, the nation’s consensus No. 1 team in the preseason. The Nittany Lions were swept by TCU in a three-game series at home last May. “We are going to find out very quickly what we are doing well, what we need to improve on and we can go from there,” coach Rob Cooper said.
GOPHERS INDOORS AGAIN
Minnesota, which played only 19 home games because of bad weather last year, are heading back indoors for early nonconference games. The Gophers have 13 games scheduled Feb. 24 to March 12 at U.S. Bank Stadium, home of the Vikings. The Gophers practiced and played early home games in the old Metrodome through 2012.
There are five pitchers in the Big Ten who stand 6-foot-8, but the burliest of the big boys is Nebraska’s 6-4, 272-pound first baseman Ben Miller. He returned for his senior season after being drafted in the 32nd round by Pittsburgh. He batted .317 with 16 doubles, six homers and 46 RBIs and committed just one error in 362 chances.