This Maryland high school player profiles series is presented by the U.S. Army.
By Alexandra Radovic, CountySportsZone.com
Ethan Shultz, a varsity center fielder for Patterson Mill High School, had to think fast: dive for the ball or stay back and play it on a bounce.
“I couldn’t decide, so I was stuck in the middle and the ball went right on by me,” Shultz said.
“I’ll never forget that play,” he added. “[It] changed the whole mood of the game and started the series of unfortunate events that would lead to us losing.”
Patterson Mill ended its 2019 state playoff run with a 7-3 loss to Colonel Richardson High School.
But the team didn’t realize it would be the last game they’d ever play together. The coronavirus pandemic canceled all spring sports for the 2020 season, and the team’s four seniors will not have a final season together.
“The way last season ended will probably be something I won’t forget for a very long time,” Shultz said. “Now knowing that it could have been my last game ever is why it will hold even more weight.”
Shultz was a varsity player for three years in baseball and two in soccer. He was the offensive MVP for the 2019 soccer season and has a career batting average of .415. He plans to attend Coastal Carolina University next fall.
“Ethan has the edge you want in a baseball player,” varsity baseball coach Matt Roseland said. “He hustles everywhere and he flat out competes. His competitiveness was contagious for our guys.”
Roseland coached three other seniors alongside Shultz. One of them, Mason Smith, was set to be a starter this season.
“The loss of this season is devastating,” Smith said. “All the offseason work that has been put in feels like it’s for nothing. Waiting for this year since I was a freshman and having it stolen just feels awful.”
Smith was a four-year member of the program, contributing previously as a relief pitcher and courtesy runner.
“It was his time to shine,” Roseland said. “He is a quiet leader, more by example than verbal.”
In the 2019 playoffs, the team won a 14-inning game against Fallston High School. Roseland credits Smith for the victory.
“He watched most of that game and then was the game-winning run on a suicide squeeze,” Roseland said. “A tribute to his team dedication and focus.”
Smith said he wishes he could get back on the field one more time with his team for senior night.
One of his fellow seniors, Nathan Vujanic, was a three-time varsity starter, with a batting average of .410. He played all four infield positions and pitched.
Vujanic was the team’s MVP last season. Roseland called him “an outstanding leader.”
“He gets it when it comes to treating others with respect while holding them accountable,” Roseland said.
Vujanic, who was also the quarterback for the football team the past three seasons, will attend Albright College to play football next fall.
“My favorite memory was playing a 14-inning game and playing all infield positions and hitting two doubles,” Vujanic said. “I feel like our team was going to have a great year. We had a very fun team and I’m disappointed to not be able to play with those guys.”
Although Roseland said he is heartbroken to lose his senior players so suddenly, he said he’s confident in their ability to overcome the loss.
“I think baseball has taught these boys how to handle it,” Roseland said. “This game can humble anyone at any time. It teaches you that failure is inevitable and you need to figure it out. … The program will feel a four-year impact from this lost season.”
Roseland said he hopes those who would follow this year’s seniors will emulate their example.