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    Wednesday, August 17, 2022

    UConn grad Ferrer is a hit for the Schooners

    Kevin Ferrer of the Mystic Schooners poses for a photo before Thursday night's NECBL game against the Ocean State Waves at Old Mountain Field in South Kingstown, R.I. Ferrer, a graduate of Stonington High School and UConn, homered in the game to help give the Schooners a 6-5 victory. (Gavin Keefe/The Day)

    Wakefield, R.I. — Kevin Ferrer has always enjoyed hitting a baseball ever since his Little League days.

    "Even when I was young, hitting was my favorite thing to do," Ferrer said. "I never wanted to be a pitcher because you didn't get to hit."

    Ferrer is pretty darn good with a bat in his hands.

    Just ask anyone on the Mystic Schooners.

    In the third inning of Thursday night's New England Collegiate Baseball League game, Ferrer crushed the first pitch that he saw, sending it over the left-center field fence for a home run. He reached base three other times via two walks and a hit-by-pitch and scored two runs in a come-from-behind 6-5 victory in 10 innings over Ocean State.

    Ferrer, a recent UConn graduate and former Stonington High School standout, is providing an offensive jolt that the Schooners need to jump-start their struggling attack.

    Since joining the Schooners, Ferrer has hit in nine straight games, batting a team-high tying .333. He's already second on the team in home runs with two, tied for third in hits with 12 and tied for third in RBI with six while playing in half of the team's 18 games.

    "He's our most mature hitter," Mystic manager Phil Orbe said. "He's someone that we've had our eyes on for a number of years. He was an all-star in the Perfect Game League a few years ago. We're very fortunate to have him this summer."

    Ferrer, an outfielder, quickly found his groove despite seeing limited action during the last couple months of the UConn baseball team's magical season that ended one win shy of reaching the College World Series.

    "At first, I was trying to get adapted to it," Ferrer said about starting the summer season with the Schooners. "I haven't seen a lot of pitching. I do feel pretty comfortable but I still have room to improve, obviously. A big thing for me also is getting the defensive reps that I haven't gotten in a while and I feel more comfortable out there, too.

    "Everything is starting off pretty well. It feels good."

    It certainly helps that Ferrer is finally healthy.

    After suffering an oblique injury on April 5 against Central Connecticut State University, Ferrer sat out for over three weeks before returning to action for UConn's series against Butler starting on April 29.

    Ferrer made an immediate contribution, finishing with four hits, three runs scored and five RBI in a three-game sweep.

    "I did all right against Butler and I was waiting for my next opportunity after that," Ferrer said.

    Another opportunity never really came.

    With the Huskies rolling and on their way to winning a Big East Conference tournament title, Ferrer had trouble cracking the lineup. He appeared in only four more games the rest of the way and got just one at-bat during the NCAA tournament run.

    "We had a lot of good guys on the team," Ferrer said. "That's how it had to be, I guess."

    Overall, Ferrer batted .264 with four doubles, one home run and 10 RBI in 20 games, including 11 starts.

    He thoroughly enjoyed being a part of such a special team.

    "It was awesome," Ferrer said. "We all knew that we should be there. And we all definitely knew that we should have gone farther. We were one game away from being in (the College World Series) in Omaha. It was cool to be there. We hadn't been to a Super Regional."

    Now, Ferrer is looking to take advantage of his summer baseball season. He's working on improving his outfield defense and speed. So far, he's thrown the ball well and made two diving catches.

    He's mostly playing left field and batting in the top four in the order.

    "Offensively, we're struggling," said Orbe, referring to Mystic's .208 team batting average. "We're trying to figure out the best combinations. He has batted anywhere from first to fourth. ... He's been our most consistent at-bat. He's not walking a heck of a lot but he's putting together a lot of really, really good at-bats, which is what we're trying to get."

    As far as what's ahead this fall for Ferrer, he's unsure right now. He's put his name in the transfer portal but his goal is to return to UConn. He has two years of eligibility remaining. He's looking into graduate school programs.

    "I want to (go back to UConn)," Ferrer said. "Hopefully. Don't know yet. We'll see. It's just conversations that I've got to have — with family and coach (Jim) Penders. They want me to come back and I want to go back, so we're just going to work for that to happen."

    Ferrer has appeared in 63 games over the last three seasons for the Huskies, posting a career average of .265.

    "Talking to the coaches at UConn, I've never heard them say anything bad about him either as a player or as a person," Orbe said. "That says a lot, particularly for someone that hasn't got consistent playing time. ... He can say that he's literally played at one of the top 20 college baseball programs in the country. That speaks to how far UConn has come in a relatively short period of time."

    Ferrer believes he has plenty of good baseball left in his 21-year-old body.

    "This summer, I'm proving to myself that I can withstand a tough schedule," Ferrer said. "When I come back in the fall, obviously, I've got everything to prove."

    g.keefe@theday.com

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