John Szefc is entering his third season as the head coach of the Terps this spring after becoming the seventh head coach in the history of the Maryland baseball program on July 18, 2012.
Szefc (pronounced CHEF), who has coached 80 players that have been drafted or signed professional contracts since 1997 including 2014 Maryland draftees Jake Stinnett (Chicago Cubs, 2nd Round), Ben Brewster (Chicago White Sox, 15th Round), Charlie White (Chicago Cubs, 21st Round) and Blake Schmit (Minnesota Twins, 26th Round), orchestrated the most successful season in Maryland baseball history in 2014.
In his second season at the helm, Szefc led the Terps to a 40-win season for the first time in program history and the program’s first-ever NCAA regional title. Along the way, the Szefc led Terps advanced to the ACC Tournament final for the first time since 1976 and earned its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 43 years culminating with a Columbia Regional championship.
Maryland’s march to the postseason began with a remarkable month of May. Szefc guided the Terps to a 13-2 mark in the month including a nine-game winning streak to close the regular season allowing Maryland to tie the program record for ACC wins (15). In addition, with two wins to begin the conference tournament, Maryland came within one win of tying the school record for consecutive victories (12).
The successes of 2014 did not go unnoticed by the media and college baseball analysts. Maryland finished the season with its highest ever ranking peaking at No. 13 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll. The Terps finished the season ranked 14th in the Baseball America, Collegiate Baseball News and Perfect Game polls, and also came in at No. 16 in the NCBWA Poll
In two seasons at Maryland, Szefc has totaled 70 wins, which is the most by any Maryland coach over that period as Maryland’s skipper.
Szefc helped tutor three All-ACC selections (Brandon Lowe, Jake Stinnett and Charlie White) and two freshmen All-Americans last season (Brandon Lowe and Mike Shawaryn). After missing the 2013 season due to injury, second baseman Brandon Lowe emerged as an offensive force to earn freshman All-American honors from Baseball America, Louisville Slugger, NCBWA and Perfect Game as well as third team All-ACC recognition.
Szefc and his staff helped transform Jake Stinnett into a premier Friday night starter and guided Mike Shawaryn to the Maryland single-season wins record (11). Stinnett led the ACC with a Maryland single-season record 132 strikeouts en route to being drafted in the second round by the Chicago Cubs in the 2014 MLB Draft, while Shawaryn picked up freshman All-American honors from Baseball America, Louisville Slugger, NCBWA and Perfect Game.
In 2013, his first season in College Park, the Terps consistently applied pressure with an offensive approach that emphasized speed on the bases and discipline at the plate. Maryland totaled 94 stolen bases; a mark that ranked second in the Atlantic Coast Conference and 30th nationally spearheaded by outfielder Charlie White. White established a Maryland single-season record with 39 stolen bases, which led the ACC and tied for fourth nationally.
In his debut season, Szefc and the Terps won 30 games including 11 in the ultra-competitive ACC, then the most conference victories for the Terps since the 1971 season. Along the way, the Terps won seven games against top-20 RPI teams.
As has been the case in his previous coaching stops, Szefc orchestrated an 11-point increase in the Terps’ batting average in 2013 from the 2012 season along with increases in several other offensive categories. Maryland’s batting average jumped from .268 in 2012 to .279 last season, along with an increase of three points in slugging percentage (.379 to .382), and an 18-point increase in on-base percentage (.358 to .376). The Terps also recorded 118 doubles, an increase of 20 from the season before, 11 shy of the program record.
Under Szefc’s tutelage, Reed and White earned All-ACC honors. Reed, Maryland’s Friday night starter, posted career highs in wins (6) and strikeouts (74), and ranked 10th in the ACC in ERA (2.33), while ranking eighth in strikeouts. In addition, Reed became the first Maryland pitcher to be named ACC Pitcher of the Week since 2008 after tossing his first career complete game shutout in a 1-0 win at Duke on April 26. The senior lefty would win the award again one week later after striking out a career-high 11 in a 7-2 win at then-No. 18 Clemson.
White, Maryland’s starting centerfielder and leadoff hitter, led the conference with 39 stolen bases, finished ninth with a .350 batting average, and tied for 11th with a .449 on-base percentage.
Szefc arrived in College Park after serving as the associate head coach at Kansas State in 2011 and 2012. He helped lead Kansas State to a NCAA Regional in 2011, when the Wildcats led the Big 12 in stolen bases with 123 while placing 10th in school history with 564 hits on the year.
Szefc has a proven track record as a recruiter and hitting coach. He served as the recruiting coordinator at his previous three stops, and as head coach at Marist College, led the Red Foxes to four conference championships and four NCAA Regional appearances in a seven-year stint from 1996-2002 winning a game in each of the squad’s final three tournament appearances to place third in each regional. The Red Foxes knocked off McNeese State in the Lafayette Regional (2000), defeated Long Beach State in the Palo Alto Regional (2001), and defeated Southwest Missouri State in the Lincoln Regional (2002).
In his career, he has coached in 27 NCAA Regional games and three NCAA Super Regional games, coached and developed 15 All-Americans, and accumulated a 641-430-4 overall record as an assistant and head coach.
Szefc went to Manhattan after a two-year stint at the University of Kansas where he was the team's hitting coach and recruiting coordinator. While in Lawrence, Szefc helped lead the Jayhawks to two Big 12 Championship appearances and a NCAA Regional berth during his first season in 2009.
With Szefc's guidance, the Jayhawks made a 17-point improvement in overall team batting average from .287 in 2008 to .304 in 2010. In Big 12 games in 2010, Kansas hit .305, which ranked second in the conference, while it led the league in base hits (304), and finished second in runs scored (195) and walks (115) during league play
Prior to his position at Kansas, Szefc was the head assistant coach at Louisiana-Lafayette from 2003-08, running an aggressive-style Ragin' Cajun offense that saw a dramatic 60-point jump in batting average during his first three years. The Ragin’ Cajun offense helped lead the school to two NCAA tournament appearances (2005, 2007) in Szefc’s six seasons in Lafayette.
Szefc posted a 212-137-1 record as the skipper for Marist, leading the Red Foxes to their first baseball title as a member of the Northeast Conference in 1997. He guided Marist to a total of four NCAA Tournament appearances in 1997, 2000, 2001 and 2002, including a 41-14 record during his final year at the school. The 2002 squad claimed a victory over Southwest Missouri State in the NCAA Lincoln Regional, while five of Szefc's players on that team went on to be selected in the MLB Draft.
Szefc won multiple awards as a head coach at Marist. He was named the 1997 NEC Coach of the year, while he earned American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) Northeast Region Coach of the Year honors in 2001.
Before his arrival at Marist, Szefc spent one season with Sacred Heart University and four years as an assistant coach with his alma mater, Drexel, from 1990-94.
Szefc managed the New York Generals in the Atlantic College Baseball League (ACBL) during the summers of 1995 and 1996, guiding the club to a 47-28 record in two seasons, two consecutive Kaiser Division championships and the ACBL championship game in 1996.
Szefc, a native of Middletown, N.Y., played collegiately for two years at Connecticut before transferring in 1987 to Drexel. During his senior campaign for the Dragons, he was tabbed an All-East Coast Conference outfielder.
Szefc graduated from Drexel University with a degree in corporate communications in 1989. He also holds a master's degree in sports administration from Temple University.
He and his wife, Barbara, have a daughter, Anna, and two sons, John Michael and Sam.