Weather delays UMBC baseball's great expectations

March 11, 1993|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,Staff Writer

UMBC coach John Jancuska wants the weather to improve and the baseball season to start in earnest. His pitching staff is deep and healthy, six regulars return and the program's stock has never been higher.

Last season was their sixth in Division I and second in the East Coast Conference, but the Retrievers had enough tradition for the NCAA selection committee. UMBC's record was 37-9 before it handed away the ECC tournament, but the Retrievers received an at-large bid to the NCAAs, in effect being recognized as one of the top 50 programs in the nation.

"I get contacted by people I never heard from before," said Jancuska, "but most of the inquiries are still local."

Even though his recruiting budget has grown to the equivalent of five scholarships, half the NCAA limit, Jancuska remains focused on Maryland talent. This year's roster includes just one player from out of state, but Jackson Edwards comes from Lancaster, Pa., with an asterisk. He pitched Essex Community College to the Junior College World Series title last spring.

Because senior right-hander Brian Raino, sophomore left-hander Kevin Loewe (Perry Hall) and senior right-hander Trevor Buckley (North Carroll) return, Edwards won't be in the rotation when UMBC goes to Campbell this weekend for its first series in the Big South Conference. Same for Kevin Alarie (Annapolis) and Jay Witasick (C. Milton Wright).

Catcher Bob Mumma signed with the White Sox following his junior year, so Brent Nickles (Centennial), last year's right fielder, moves behind the plate. Center fielder Greg Elliott (Calvert Hall), first baseman Shawn Shugars (Chopticon), shortstop John Burns (Owings Mills) and third baseman Andy Coleman (Seneca Valley) were ECC all-stars.

Jancuska wants to move Coleman to the outfield and Burns to third base to make room at shortstop for freshman Jeff Vincent (Broadneck), but the Retrievers first have to get in some games. After four cancellations, UMBC finally opened Tuesday, pounding Coppin State, 14-3.

"The March weather here has been good the last three years," said Jancuska, whose 16-year record is 336-193-3. "We've been spoiled."

Headed to the Hoosier Dome

A trio who dominated the state Class 4A track and field championships in 1988 will be at the Hoosier Dome this weekend, looking for NCAA indoor titles.

James Madison senior Jerry Roney, The Sun Athlete of the Year for Woodlawn High in 1987-88, is part of a solid 55-meter hurdles field. Tennessee Olympian Jose Parrilla (Severna Park) says he disdains running indoors, but he beat an international 800 field last month at the Mobil 1 Invitational.

Torrance Zellner, Roney's teammate at Woodlawn, anchors Florida's 4 x 400 relay.

Navy's Greg Keller has the fastest time in the 3,000, and teammate Todd Washburn qualified in the 5,000. Maryland's Marchelle Payne (triple jump) is the state's only other entrant.

Not-so-secret weapon

Five regulars are gone from the Maryland team that won the NCAA title in women's lacrosse, but coach Cindy Timchal is encouraged by the possible replacements. She'll start as many as four freshmen when the Terps open the season today (3 p.m.) at Denton Field against Delaware.

One of the rookies has had a successful introduction to college athletics. Kelly Amonte, an attacker from Braintree, Mass., who's at College Park on a lacrosse scholarship, was one of the nation's top scorers in soccer last fall.

Towson State vs. UMBC again

Baltimore is guaranteed a team in the semifinals of the Big South Conference women's basketball tournament. Fourth-seeded Towson State and No. 5 UMBC are to meet at noon in today's quarterfinals at Radford's Dedmon Center. Both teams have come around after bleak Decembers.

Towson State (11-15) lost its first seven games, but it goes to the tournament with four straight wins, the most recent coming on a last-second shot by Shannon Ward that beat UMBC, 59-58. UMBC (11-15) was 1-7 when it started conference play.

Briefly noted

The Prince George's (Division II) and Howard (Division III) men and the Allegany women (Division II) are still alive in the National Junior College Athletic Association basketball tournaments. . . . The NJCAA bowling championships are tomorrow and Saturday at the Brunswick Crown Lanes in the Hawthorne Shopping Center. . . . The home opener for Joe Duff's 32nd and final season with Navy baseball comes Sunday (2:30 p.m.) at Bishop Stadium against Bowie State.

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