While Conor Reynolds was a teenager playing baseball at Loyola Blakefield, he had aspirations of continuing the sport in college.
Early in high school, Reynolds envisioned going to a big Division 1 university— out west, perhaps — but his offensive numbers at Loyola weren’t dazzling.
He reached out to a number of college coaches at schools that fit his dream; none pursued him.
Ultimately, his dream flipped, and he decided to go to school 10 minutes from his Roland Park home on a small campus: Johns Hopkins University.
That unexpected choice a few years ago has worked out well for the shortstop and senior standout. Reynolds and his family say they feel blessed by the decision; so must the Blue Jays.
Reynolds has broken – or is on pace to break — numerous school records and, ultimately, will be considered one of the best players in Hopkins’ baseball history.
An early baseball start
Reynolds’ mother, Stasia, said her son began swinging a bat at age 2. By 4, he was playing organized baseball — and hitting.
“That’s been something he’s brought to every team,” Stasia Reynolds said. “His hitting was always good and fairly consistent.”
As a junior at Loyola, Reynolds garnered some recruiting interest from Division 3 Centennial Conference schools such as McDaniel College and Swarthmore (Pa.) College. But one college stuck out – nearby Towson University, a Division 1 program that had been cut and then reinstated in 2013.
“I had some communication with the coaches at Towson,” Reynolds said. “That was the year that their program was under fire and they were ready to fold. So, a lot of their recruits de-committed and they went re-recruiting, almost.”
Reynolds told his parents that if he received an offer from the Tigers he would take it. But that changed when Reynolds attended a baseball camp at Hopkins that summer. He had the opportunity to work with head coach Bob Babb and assistant Jonas Fester.
“I basically came here just to make a recruiting video,” he said. “But the instruction I received from Coach Babb and Jonas, it just seemed like a great fit from the start.”
In turn, Reynolds made a positive impression on his future coaches at that camp.
“What stood out was he ran well, he was a fine defensive shortstop, and he swung the bat OK, that was the area that probably needed the most work,” Babb said. “But he was athletic, so that’s something you can really work on.”
A perfect match with Hopkins
Reynolds fell in love with Hopkins immediately. He went home that night and told his parents that was the school for him.
Babb thought it was a great fit, too, since Reynolds was a local kid who wanted to become an engineer. Babb said it wasn’t tough to convince him to attend Hopkins, a top academic institution with one of the best engineering programs in the country.
Seems like a pretty easy recruiting process, right? Maybe for him, but not for his family.
“It was a little overwhelming, honestly,” his mother said. “(Conor hadn’t) relied on me or his father, and we did not have much experience or direction going into the recruiting process.”
With his mind decided, Reynolds needed to rush to submit his application, because Hopkins’ early enrollment deadline was a week away.
He was accepted and, in his first year with the Blue Jays, Reynolds earned the starting job at shortstop. He considers himself lucky because the entire starting infield had graduated the previous year, and so every infield spot was open.
That season, he earned All-Centennial Conference honors. Since then, he’s become the eighth, three-time All-Centennial honoree in school history.
The younger players now look up to him. He takes pride in that, and his mother has noticed.
“I think he takes very seriously being one of the more seasoned guys,” she said. “He’s not perfect, but he takes his role very seriously.”
Thriving in his final year
As a senior, Reynolds is having his best collegiate season. And his name keeps appearing on the school’s career leaderboard.
He’s first in walks with 94 and is Top Five in hits (197), at-bats (241) and runs (167).
“Obviously, it’s nice to see your name in some record books,” Reynolds said. “And it’s nice to see them in categories that are important to my game.”
Up next for Reynolds is graduation in May, and what he hopes is his first trip to the Division 3 College World Series in Appleton, Wis.
He’ll be attending grad school at Johns Hopkins next year in the engineering management master’s program and hopes to return as a graduate assistant coach.
Reynolds looked all around in high school, but ultimately found his collegiate home – unexpectedly — close to home.
BaltimoreBaseball.com’s Top Performers of the Week
Jay Perry, INF, Salisbury University
Soph./Elkton, Md./St. Mark’s HS
The Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) named Perry its Player of the Week for the week ending April 9. The 6-foot-2, 225-pound righty helped the Seagulls go a perfect 3-0. He went 6-for-13 (.462), hit two home runs and drove in 10 runs.
Greg Schneider, RHP, Frostburg State University
Jr./ Jefferson Hills, Pa./ Thomas Jefferson HS
Schneider started Monday against St. Mary’s College of Maryland, striking out eight and allowing one run in eight innings in a 12-2 win. He’s now 3-3 with a 3.22 ERA in nine starts. He has struck out 77 batters in 58 2/3 innings pitched.
Richard Miller, INF, Towson University
Soph./East Amherst, N.Y./Canisius HS
The left-handed hitting third baseman had four hits in an 11-6 loss to Navy on Tuesday. That performance came directly after he was named the Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Week for going 10-for-20 with a homer, two doubles and 10 RBIs in five games.
Moments worth mentioning
University of Maryland junior shortstop Kevin Smith returned to the lineup Wednesday as the Terps’ designated hitter against George Mason. The Preseason Big Ten Player of the Year suffered a left shoulder injury against Rutgers University on April 1 and hadn’t played since. Smith homered in the 8-5 loss. So did sophomore outfielder Marty Costes (Archbishop Curley), who reached base five times. … Maryland ace Brian Shaffer (North Harford) is one of 40 players that have been named to the midseason watch list for the Golden Spikes Award, given annually to the best amateur in the country. Shaffer, a junior right-hander, is 4-2 with a 1.98 ERA in eight starts. … Johns Hopkins went 5-1 in the last eight days, winning two versus McDaniel, splitting with Muhlenberg College, using a walkoff home run in the 10th inning to beat 22nd-ranked Salisbury University and then defeating Gettysburg, 6-3, on Wednesday. Hopkins is now ranked 10th in the d3baseball.com poll … David Harding, a 2016 Archbishop Spalding graduate, had a stellar week for the Princeton Tigers and was selected as the school’s Athlete of the Week. He was 3-for-6 with eight RBIs in a doubleheader Sunday. … Towson sophomore right-hander Dean Stramara was named the school’s Athlete of the Week after allowing two runs and striking out six in a career-high eight innings against Hofstra. … Navy (25-12) has won seven straight after beating the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (7-24) on Wednesday.
Matchup to watch
Johns Hopkins hosts its conference rival, Haverford College, on Saturday. The two teams will play a doubleheader beginning at 12:30 p.m. Last year, they played four times — including the Centennial Conference championship – and Haverford won each contest.