A sneak peek at potential
Published 9:36 pm Saturday, March 15, 2014
Injuries have been following former Nansemond River High School baseball standout Brandon Lowe like a plague in college. But he started off his redshirt freshman year at the University of Maryland with a reminder of why he deserves a spot at the Division I level.
Playing in 13 of the Terrapins’ first 14 games this season, he was second on the 10-4 team with a .302 batting average and led the team with 13 runs scored and 10 runs batted in.
“It feels pretty good,” Lowe said of his success, adding it helps having a good team around him.
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He pointed to a doubleheader against the visiting University of Massachusetts on March 1 as the games he felt best about so far this year. In a game one 4-0 victory, he recorded three hits and two runs scored in four at bats. In the game two 10-1 win, he had two hits, two RBIs and one run scored in four at bats.
Describing his reaction to his own success, Lowe would not say he figured it would happen, but said, “I always expect myself to do the best that I can,” and working hard is going to get you somewhere.
Unfortunately, he recently suffered a hamstring injury that has him currently sidelined. Before that, during the UMass series, he jammed his thumb, but returned fairly quickly from it.
“He’s definitely had an interesting start to his career,” Maryland head coach John Szefc said. “I hope that at some point he can play where he’s 100 percent, really, because he’s a pretty talented guy.”
Redshirting was not the original plan for Lowe’s freshman year. Shortly after he had earned a spot in the lineup for the season opener last year, he tore his anterior cruciate ligament, ending his season before it began.
“They had to basically re-do his knee,” Szefc said, and Lowe rehabbed for quite a while.
Redshirting that year helped him maintain four years of playing eligibility.
Lowe put the year to good use, learning what he could by observation. He said he picked out an experienced and successful player on the team and “saw how he did things and kind of incorporated it in my game.”
He credits what he gleaned from that year as having helped him start strong in 2014, but noted there is a clear difference between watching and doing.
“It helps you get prepared for it, but until you get in the game, you can’t really say you’re specifically ready,” he said.
He has found the Division I level has been markedly different from high school ball due to the speed of the game. Everybody runs faster, throws harder, hits the ball harder and pitches faster.
After seeing what Lowe did to start this year, Coach Szefc said, “I wouldn’t say I was surprised,” but coming from a guy who took a year away from the game because of the ACL tear, “I wouldn’t say we were expecting that, either.”
“He’s pretty solid in his approach to the plate,” he said. “His skill level is pretty advanced for a guy his age and for a guy who took a year off.”
Szefc referred to Lowe’s healthy difficulties as bad luck.
“In theory, all three of his injuries, it’s not like you can really prevent them a whole lot,” he said.
He knows Lowe wants to be out there day-in and day-out, performing at a high level.
“It’s just a matter of his body letting him do that,” Szefc said.
Back home, Nansemond River head coach Mark Stuffel would not say he has been surprised by Lowe’s success either.
“He’s one of the best hitters that’s come through my program,” Stuffel said. “We all know he’s going to do very well.”
As far goals for this year, Lowe said he aims to get healthy and help out his team whichever way he can.
“Hopefully we can get into the post-season and do really well,” he said. “This year looks like a really special year.”