Among the bevy of fresh faces on the field at the USF Baseball Stadium stands senior right fielder Luke Maglich.
The 22-year-old team captian is the only returning starter aside from sophomore Kevin Merrell.
“Coming up with the 2015 class, they were all older than me obviously and it was a big class, so it was always being the younger guy,” Maglich said. “Now in the blink of an eye, all of a sudden I’m the oldest guy by two to three years. It’s eye-opening, it’s kind of weird, honestly. But it’s fun, they’re a good group of guys and it’s fun to lead them.”
With 20 newcomers on the Bulls roster, assistant coach Mike Current said Maglich has been a model example of what the younger players should do.
“He plays hard all the time,” Current said. “Whether it’s practice or a game, he always plays hard. If he hits a ground ball to second base, he’s running as hard as he can down the line. He just plays the game the right way, and I think that rubs off on the younger guys.
“A lot of times, that’s the most powerful way a guy can lead is to show the other guys how to do things and he’s certainly done that.”
Even with the extra time he spends in the weight room after workouts and the dedication he shows to studying for a degree in biomedical sciences, Maglich leads his teammates best with his play on the field.
Not one to shy away from the big moment, the senior has been a part of all three walk-off wins this season. He singled home the game-winning run in the first game of the season against Liberty, scored the winning run in a Friday game against Holy Cross on March 11 in the 15th inning and then came back the next day to win the game with a walk-off single.
Junior pitcher Tommy Eveld said Maglich’s intensity with which he plays the game is what makes him such a good teammate to have.
“My first outing last year against Louisville, I started to realize this is a kid I want behind me when I’m on the mound,” Eveld said. “I gave up, well it wasn’t a hit because he ended up catching it, but the kid hit the ball all the way to the fence and he ran full speed into a concrete fence to catch the ball.
“I was just like, ’Wow, I need to buy this kid dinner.’ Just time and time again he’s out there while I’m on the mound making a diving catch, running into the fence, sliding to make a catch. Several times I’ve stood on the mound tipping my cap to Luke Maglich out in right field making a good play for me.”
The fearless demeanor Maglich assumes when he dons his green and white jersey is nothing new to the right fielder.
In the summer of his sophomore year, Maglich was playing summer-league baseball in New England when he was hit by a pitch in the face. He broke seven bones and suffered a concussion, ending his summer.
“It was just really eye opening. It makes you stop taking things for granted, things can happen in a split second, especially in baseball. It’s such a quick game and everything happens so quick, it was eye opening.”
Undeterred by the injury, Maglich confidently returned to the batter’s box the following fall.
While Maglich has been a go-to player on the field, Eveld said he’s proven to be just as reliable away from the diamond.
“I know that if something happens that’s not related to baseball, I can pick the phone up and call Maglich, and he’ll be there,” Eveld said. “If I blew a tire out on the highway and it was two in the morning, I could call Maglich and we would come pick me up or help me find a new tire.”
Growing up with two older brothers, the Sarasota native grew up with a passion for playing baseball. By the time he made it to Riverview High School, Maglich had played with enough passion to sustain a few injuries along the way, leading him to pursue a degree in the medical field.
“Neither of my parents are doctors, I don’t really have any doctors in my family, but I got knee surgery when I was in sixth grade and that kind of planted a seed in me that I could have a sweet job where I could cut people open and fix them and heal them up,” Maglich said. “Ever since then I’ve wanted to go to medical school and be a doctor one day.”
Maglich admitted the grind of studying for a biomedical sciences major along with playing 60 games a season can take its toll, but it’s given him a focus that Current said is rubbing off on the freshmen around him.
“He’s a guy that always goes about his business the right way,” Current said. “He’s not a guy that says a whole lot, but he’s always just doing the right thing, on and off the field and that’s the type of guy you want to build your program around.”
Consistently batting in the top half of the order, Maglich has delivered at the plate and the base paths in his senior season. The 6-foot-2, 195-pound right fielder is hitting .280 with 12 RBIs and is 17-for-17 on stolen bases in 29 games this season.
With just over half of a season remaining in his time at USF, Maglich said he’s enjoying his last ride, but he’s also determined to lead his team back to the postseason.
“Levi Borders and Luke Maglich are pretty much the team leaders, they’re our captains,” Eveld said. “Those are the tough guys on the team, those are the guy who will lead us to victory. Then Levi goes down and it almost seems like Maglich has to be twice the leader.
“When you think about it like that, it’s pretty tough to do, but I think Maglich is really stepping up. Even when he’s not on the field, he’s still in the dugout cheering guys on, giving younger guys advice on stuff, trying to pick up pitches from the pitcher, trying to steal signs, he’s a team player. Having someone like that is what helps you win games.”