COLLEGE PARK, Md. (WUSA9) -- The University of Maryland baseball team received a spirited sendoff today as it left for the 2014 NCAA Division I Baseball Championship in Columbia, South Carolina. Fans gathered outside the UMD Varsity Sports Teamhouse to wish the team luck before it boarded the buses to the tournament.
Seeded second in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), the Terps are set to play in the Regionals against the Old Dominion Monarchs, who are seeded third, on Friday. The Terps' high standing follows its notable 43-year absence from the championship.
Head Coach John Szefc, who is in his second year of coaching at UMD, attributes his team's success to a season of thorough preparation, including finishing second in the ACC Championship this past Sunday after eleven straight wins. "If you're gonna win the NCAA tournament, you have to prepare to win it. I think physically we've prepared, and last weekend, mentally, that prepared us really well," says Szefc.
The team hardly sailed through the season, however. Szefc notes, "We had a really rough span there midseason." The Terps managed to overcome their shaky patch, however, finishing their regular season 36-21 overall.
"I think, as a group, these guys decided, 'We're going to turn this thing around,' and that's exactly what they did," says Szefc. "I've never been around a team that's done that, to be honest, so the fact that they were able to accomplish that really is the most unique thing about this team."