When Marty Costes stepped into the batter’s box two years ago at Cal State Fullerton, he was just another freshman. Then, he launched a home run over the scoreboard. The next at-bat he did the same, this time sending a bomb over the batter’s eye.
The Terps won that game 8-4, coming out of the series taking games two and three to secure the series win.
“Their coaches told us after the game that [they’d] been there for a long time but [they’d] never seen a ball hit that far,” said head coach Rob Vaughn, who was an assistant at the time. “That’s when you realize, holy cow, this isn’t just a freak home run hitter, this kid can really play baseball.”
Now in his junior year at Maryland, Costes isn’t trying to get the big hits. Instead, his focus is on growing as a player both defensively and in the dugout.
After starting the season 9-59 (.153) in his first 16 games, Costes is back to hitting over .300, going 16-for-52 in his last 14 games. But for Costes, his approach at the plate hasn’t changed; he’s still being aggressive, but now he’s trying to have more fun with the game.
“[I’m] just enjoying each little moment,” said Costes. “This being my third year I kind of feel like this has flown by. [So I’m] just enjoying the staff, being with the staff, and the guys are enjoying themselves too. It’s been fun so far.”
Last year, Costes finished the season hitting .322, but felt that the defensive side of his game needed work. Now, he feels this year has been a learning experience because he’s been more unlucky at the plate.
“I’ve been hitting balls at people,” he said. “That’s something that’s going to make me stronger, something I can learn for going into pro ball.”
This year, Costes is also working on adjusting his attitude, making sure he’s the same person when he’s hitting well and when he’s not.
“[I’m] doing a lot more smiling,” said Costes, “even when I’m not doing well.”
Costes didn’t start out as an outfielder. When Vaughn visited one of his high school games, he went to see Costes on the mound pitching.
“It] was mind-boggling,” said Vaughn. “Wasn’t beautiful on the mound. Then he moves out to shortstop when he’s done pitching. I called his coach after the game and was like, we need to start working [Costes] out in the outfield…he’s going to make his money out in left and right.”
So far, the move has worked for Costes. While he isn’t a perfect outfielder, he’s grown over the past two years, something senior center fielder Zach Jancarski has noticed.
“He’s always been super super athletic,” said Jancarski. “He’s always made the really good plays, but his attention to detail with the smaller things…has gotten a lot better, and that’s caused him to have a lot of success [defensively] this year. I’m excited for the rest of the year [with him].”
Costes, Baltimore native, has one more year of eligibility left at Maryland, but is unsure whether he’ll return for his senior season. Drafted by the Houston Astros in the 25th round last year, this year his decision will once again depend on what round he’s drafted. But, he acknowledged that he wouldn’t mind coming back to Maryland to play.
“This is my home,” said Costes, “so I don’t really feel any pressure from any of the coaching staff or players. I feel loved.”
The Terps continue their series against the Fighting Illini at 1 p.m. Sunday, in College Park. The two teams are tied in the series at one game apiece, with Illinois taking the first game 10-6 and Maryland taking game two 7-1.