When Virginia Tech hired baseball coach John Szefc in 2018, he was taking over one of the worst baseball programs in the ACC. Now, Szefc has quietly turned around the Hokies during his five seasons as head coach.
After going 21-33 in his first season (2018), Szefc improved the Hokies to 26 wins the following year. Virginia Tech was 11-5 in 2020 before COVID-19 canceled a promising season. In 2021, the Hokies went 27-25 before finally breaking out in 2022, with a 45-14 record, including first place in the ACC with 19 wins and an appearance in the NCAA Super Regional where they lost to Oklahoma in the final game.
In addition to Szefc’s outstanding work, he’s also developed some pretty good players. One of those players is outfielder Gavin Cross. A native of Bristol, Tennessee, Cross joined the Hokies in 2020 and was an immediate sensation. In his first full season in 2021, Cross hit .345 with 11 home runs and a 1.035 OPS. In 2022, Cross batted .328, slugging 17 home runs and finished with an OPS of 1.071.
With the 2022 MLB draft set to begin next week, Cross is considered one of the top 10 prospects available. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound outfielder is the No. 10 overall prospect, according to MLB.com.
Virginia Tech will miss Cross, but now Szefc must prove he can recruit and develop his replacement, something the best teams do. If we study Szefc’s history at Marist and Maryland, I wouldn’t bet against him.