This spring has been a rollercoaster so far for Duke baseball, but it’s been smooth sailing for their new outfielder, Peter Matt.
Matt, a hard-hitting graduate transfer from Penn, has seen early success in what will be his lone season with the Blue Devils in his final year of eligibility. Through the spring’s first month of play, the new arrival ranks among the top three Blue Devils in pretty much every major offensive category with a .329 batting average (3rd), .955 OPS (2nd), 27 hits (1st) and six steals (1st) in as many attempts. Put simply, Matt has not only been excellent, but excellently well-rounded as well to this point.
In May 2020, Matt joined in on the Ivy League’s mass athletic exodus: after the spring season was unceremoniously brought to an end by COVID-19, the conference announced it would not grant an extra year of eligibility to spring athletes in a break with the larger NCAA decision. With Matt in need of a new home and Duke in need of reinforcements in the outfield, the Larchmont, N.Y. native ended up in Durham this past fall as a graduate student to further his playing career and earn a degree at the Fuqua School of Business.
In four prosperous years with the Quakers, perhaps Matt’s finest quality as a player was a remarkable tendency to improve from year to year. After breaking out as a sophomore in 2018 and receiving a Second-Team All-Ivy nod, Matt outdid himself as a junior and senior, earning First-Team honors in 2019 and batting a monstrous .457, which ranked 10th in the nation, in the shortened 2020 season.
But enough about the past: in his fifth year of collegiate baseball, Matt refuses to stop improving, and has proved an undeniable bright spot for the Blue Devils (11-10, 5-7 in the ACC) in what has been a turbulent start to the spring campaign. After ranking in the top ten of Baseball America’s final 2020 rankings, Duke has struggled to meet expectations so far after coming in at No. 16 in the preseason poll.
Duke’s extremely difficult early-season slate - which ranks 13th in Division I in strength of schedule - is a reason for optimism. The Blue Devils are very clearly better than their record would suggest, and much of that is due to Matt’s instant and consistent success at the plate. As always, he is sure to keep improving, and will undoubtedly be vital down to the lines to Duke’s postseason hopes.