This past offseason, Maryland head coach John Szefc considered a coach as his top recruit.
The blue-chip prospect Szefc pursued was pitching coach Ryan Fecteau, who had just finished his sixth season at Bryant.
“We were really lucky to get him,” Szefc said. “He’s got no ego and he’s been a really good fit.”
Now that Szefc signed his number-one recruit, Fecteau will sport colors that his former players are familiar with seeing, but not on him. He made the trip down to College Park twice with the Bulldogs.
Fecteau will try to help the 6-5 Terps build on their five-game winning streak as he reunites with his former team in a three-game series at home this weekend.
After former pitching coach Jim Belanger left for the same job at Kentucky following four seasons at Maryland, Szefc knew he needed a program-builder. Belanger oversaw the development of 10 MLB draft picks.
“We kind of needed a guy who could come in and take guys and make them better based on what they had,” Szefc said. “He kind of has a reputation for taking a B-level pitcher and making him an A-level pitcher.”
Fecteau earned that reputation at Bryant. Under him, Bryant was the only mid-major pitching staff to finish top 25 nationally in ERA three consecutive years. The Bulldogs won their conference in each of his six years.
Despite his success at Bryant, Fecteau said this year hasn’t been a big adjustment because of the experience the Maryland pitching staff owns.
“[The older players have] done a really good job with the young kids and just kind of being mentors and leaders to them, so it’s been almost an extension of me,” Fecteau said. “They’re out there coaching them in the bullpen, during the game at times. It’s been pretty easy to be honest.”
Fecteau described his coaching style as “relaxed and loose.” Reliever Mike Rescigno agreed.
“He’s just a good energy in the dugout, he doesn’t ever freak out about stuff,” Rescigno said. “He’s just real positive all the time.”
In fact, Fecteau likes to keep it really loose, with exercise equipment, that is. Because of the large bullpen Maryland provides, Fecteau has filled it with exercise equipment to help improve his pitchers’ technique.
“That’s like a lab in that bullpen as far as how he runs it,” Szefc said. “A lot of different mechanisms he uses.”
One of the mechanisms is a balance beam players use to help with their delivery. It is meant to teach pitchers to keep their body upright so they can thrown down the mound better.
“I know I struggled with that, but ever since I started working with Fecteau, my mechanics and everything is starting to click a little better now,” Rescigno said. “I think [he’s] really helped me become a pitcher instead of a thrower.”
When it comes to scouting his former team, Fecteau said he’s pretty familiar.
“Oh yeah, I’ll write up the whole scouting report,” he said. “I’ll do the hitters and the pitchers.”
The Bulldogs have seen some turnover since last year, but Fecteau recruited a lot of their new players.
One of the players Fecteau should remember is Friday’s expected pitcher, sophomore left-hander Steve Theetge. Theetge threw for a 2.42 ERA last season and recorded twice as many strikeouts as he did walks. This year, though, he’s struggled in Fecteau’s absence. The sophomore has an 8.53 ERA in 12.2 innings.
Brian Shaffer will match up against Theetge. Shaffer owns a 2.55 ERA in 17.2 innings pitched. After a busy midweek, the bullpen is hoping that Shaffer can go deep into Friday’s game.
Saturday will feature Taylor Bloom and Bulldogs freshman right-hander Chris Wright. Bloom is coming off of a quality seven-inning, two-run start against NC State. Wright will make his second start of the season. He surrendered five runs in two innings in his debut.
Tyler Blohm will square off with junior right-hander Ross Weiner on Sunday. Weiner’s logged the most innings (15.1) on the Bryant staff and his ERA registers at 4.11. Blohm will look to build off his win over Dayton last week where he fanned six in five innings.
The games on Friday and Saturday will start at 2 p.m. while Sunday’s game is set for 1 p.m.
Edited by Connor Mount.
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