One year ago, Marty Costes was completing an outstanding run with the Archbishop Curley High School baseball team. Now, the Baltimore native has established himself as one of the finest freshmen in the Big Ten.
Costes has enjoyed a standout first season at the University of Maryland, leading the team in slugging percentage (.500), home runs (tied for eighth) and RBIs (34). Costes has earned the Big Ten's Freshman of the Week honor two times during his initial collegiate season.
"I've become a more disciplined hitter than in my high school years," Costes said. "I've always been a fastball hitter, but the next step for me is hitting off-speed pitches. I see every game as another adjustment for me."
Costes has adjusted quickly to the college game. He has been one of the leaders of a Maryland team that has a different look than recent squads. During the 2014 and 2015 seasons, Maryland ended a long postseason drought with consecutive appearances in the NCAA Super Regionals. Despite losing eight players to the MLB Draft in June 2015, the Terps have stayed competitive, posting a 26-24 mark and holding their ground in the Big Ten race.
Following a 1-2 weekend against visiting Rutgers, the Terps are 11-10 and tied with Penn State for seventh place in the conference entering their final regular-season series May 19-21 at Michigan State. Maryland and Penn State are one game ahead of Illinois and Iowa in the race for the final two playoff spots. The Terps must finish among the top eight teams to qualify for the 2016 Big Ten tournament, scheduled for May 25-29 at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Neb.
Costes has done his part to keep Maryland's conference title hopes alive. While hitting .285 in the middle of the batting order, he has also been a defensive standout. Costes, who played third base throughout most of his high school career, has made a smooth transition to left field, committing two errors all season.
"Playing the outfield has been different," Costes said. "The hardest adjustment was getting a read on the ball. I've worked every day on my defense. I've taken a lot of reps [in left field], and that's really helped me."
Costes spent his first two years of high school at Baltimore Polytechnic but transferred to Archbishop Curley before his junior year. The 5-foot-9, 200-pounder made an immediate impact with the Friars, leading the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association in batting average, home runs and RBIs during his first season at Curley.
Costes also played football and basketball for the Friars and was named the school's Athlete of the Year at the end of his senior year. In October 2014, Costes committed to play baseball at Maryland.
"The mentality of the coaching staff really catered toward me," said Costes, who will major in either communications or criminal justice. "The up-tempo game that we play really fits the way that I've played. Plus, it means a lot for me to play for the school in my home state."
The support of his teammates helped Costes acclimate to the demands of being a Division I student-athlete.
"I've been accepted by the guys around me," Costes said. "That's helped me be effective and play loose."
Costes had to earn his way into the starting lineup. During the Terps' season-opening series at Alabama, he made one pinch-hit appearance in three games. On Feb. 27, Costes was Maryland's starting designated hitter for the middle game of a three-game set with Rhode Island. But his real breakout came in early March. Costes had two hits and an RBI during a March 1 loss at Delaware and followed with two hits and two runs knocked in as Maryland edged Tennessee, 10-9, March 4. He has been a staple in the starting lineup since then.
"I took my opportunity when I found it," Costes said. "I've always stayed confident in myself and feel blessed at the chances that I get now."