With a 12-9 record against non-conference opponents last season, coupled with a 12-12 record at home, the Pittsburgh Panthers are looking to take their next step: posting a winning record in the ACC. If Pitt does take a step forward next spring, redshirt senior centerfielder Frank Maldonado will have surely played a big part in that.
From the fall ball leagues across the country to the MLB playoffs starting, baseball is a year round sport. It’s no different for Maldonado who is preparing for what he hopes to be a memorable final season. He was kind enough to take a some time out of his busy schedule to answer a few of my questions.
Q1: What facets of your game are you looking to improve and/or polish in your final season as a Panther?
Going into my final season as a Panther, I look to bring more consistency to my at-bats over the course of the season. Being more patient and disciplined will hopefully limit the amount of times I stroll back to the dugout feeling like I got myself out.
Q2: What makes the ACC such a strong conference, and what can the team do in order to improve upon the 9-21 in-conference record last season?
The overall level of talent that you see in our conference on a regular basis is what makes it so premier. In terms of improving on our last season, I believe that we can find more success by limiting teams offensively with strong defensive play and by executing more consistently in scoring situations.
Q3: If you had to pick, and all things being equal, would you rather go 0-4 at the plate or commit an error in the field?
I would much rather go 0-4 at the plate. Even if I am not individually getting a hit, I can still execute a situational at-bat (ie. advancing a runner) and one of my teammates in a better position to capitalize.
Q4: You currently have the all-time program record for being hit by pitch. Is there anything about the way you stand in the box that seemingly draws them to you, and do you think anyone will break that record?
In my opinion, I feel like it is less of the way I stand in the box and more my style of play that results in me getting hit with so many pitches. I had that same record back in high school. I'm willing to do anything I can to get on first base and sometimes getting plunked is a result of that.
Q5: What can we expect from Pitt during the 2018 season?
You can expect us to come out every day and compete to the best of our abilities. We don't play depending on who our opponent is. Regardless of who we're up against, you can expect us to play our brand of hard-nosed, blue-collar baseball. We will be taking this program to places it has never been before.