Mike Ferrara was on his way to work when he was asked a question that would line up his future.
He had just put in a really good day at the Top 100 Mid-Atlantic Showcase held in late June at Villanova Ballpark in Plymouth Meeting, going 4-for-4 at the plate when he was stopped by UNC-Greensboro head coach Link Jarrett. Jarrett, who liked what he had seen, asked Ferrara if he saw himself playing college ball down south.
It was the first time Ferrara had heard from Greensboro, but less than a month later, he’s set to become a Spartan.
“I really liked the idea of going south, it fits my personality really well and when I got down there on my visit, the campus was beautiful and I loved everything about it,” Ferrara said. “It was a great fit. They have a great coaching staff, it’s close to a couple of my buddies who are going to school around there. I pretty much loved it and committed on the spot.”
Ferrara, a rising senior at Archbishop Wood, gave a verbal pledge to play baseball for UNC-Greensboro on July 17, capping a quick process. In doing so, the first baseman fulfilled a goal he’s poured a lot of time, energy and work into and made himself into a Division I player.
After that initial meeting, Ferrara and Jarrett talked over the phone then Ferrara had another big outing in front of his future coach at a tournament in Georgia, where he based a couple of home runs.
“When I was younger, I saw kids leaving CB South and going D-I and I just thought it was amazing these kids were going to high-level school and I wanted it to be a goal to play Division I baseball,” Ferrara said. “I never thought I would have a chance to, but the past few years, I saw myself going somewhere to play Division I and I got that opportunity.”
While Ferrara, who plans to major in business, wanted to play Division I, he also wanted to be part of a winning program that also met his academic needs. The Spartans certainly provide that. UNC-Greensboro went 36-24 during the 2017 season, winning the Southern Conference tournament and qualifying for the NCAA tournament.
It was the second straight season of at least 35 wins for the Spartans and in his talks and meetings with the coaches, Ferrara saw plenty to make him think they could continue to help him improve as a player.
“Across all of NCAA, they were fifth in batting average, they’re a great hitting team and every year, they seem to be right in it,” Ferrara said. “In the tournament, they beat St. John’s and lost to Clemson by one run. Those are some of the biggest and best schools and (Greensboro) was competing right with them and it was a big reason I chose to go there.”
The first baseman also found plenty of kindred spirits on the Spartans’ roster with a lot of the players sharing his love of hunting and fishing
Ferrara, who hit third or fourth in Wood’s lineup, posted a strong junior campaign this spring. The first baseman hit .385, collecting 25 hits in 65 at-bats, scored 21 runs and drove in 25. Along with Antonio Rossillo and John Gifford, Ferrera headed up a fearsome heart of the order for the Vikings.
After spending his freshman year at Central Bucks South, where he played JV, Ferrara followed the encouragement of a few of his friends already at Wood and transferred. He managed to crack a tough and experienced lineup and started as a sophomore, which he even said was a bit of a surprise.
That experience proved invaluable, as he got to play with and learn from players like Sean Kelly, Bobby Heck, Ryan Logan and Joey Lancellotti.
“We had three or four guys going to good schools,” Ferrara said. “Lance was a big factor in my growth, trying to take after him and his approach. All of those guys were a big factor in my trying to become a Division I athlete.”
Ferrara also plays travel ball with the Philly Bandits, which boast a number of local standouts among their ranks and said the coaches he’s had all along the way have all impacted and helped his growth.
By the end of this past season, Ferrara had tried to be a leader for the Vikings, who started just one senior, Mick Pristas, among the position players. Knowing he would be counted on as a senior to lead, Ferrara wanted to get comfortable in the role and hopes he’s able to provide the same kind of thing his upperclassmen did to the younger players next year.
At 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds, Ferrara already has a good frame but said he wants to add some weight to help his power. His size also helps him defensively, where he’s a very solid fielder and Ferrara thinks he’s still got plenty of room left to grow.
“I really fell in love with the idea that you can keep working and keep getting better,” Ferrara said. “Unlike football, where you have to be, a little bit, gifted with the size and strength in baseball you can keep working at your skills and I’ve always liked the idea of that.”
Ferrara still has one more season at Wood and with the Vikings bringing back most of their offense, plus a top arm in Jack Colyar, they’ll have high expectations. Just like he wanted in his college search, Ferrara is embracing the need to be a winner.
“Last year we were more underdogs but this year, I want us to be more feared throughout the (Catholic League),” Ferrara said. “We’ve got the experience now in our whole lineup and I think we’ll be ready to go.”
Top Photo: Archbishop Wood junior Mike Ferrara takes a lead off first base during the Vikings' game against Holy Ghost Prep. (Photo courtesy Teri Seibert/21st-Century Media)