By Ryan Kaczmarski
Olmsted Falls native and Baldwin-Wallace College freshman Zack Ferster is one of six Yellow Jackets baseball players to be named to the All-Ohio Athletic Conference team, with Ferster being one of two to be named to the first team.
“When (B-W head baseball) Coach (Brian) Harrison told me (about the selection), I was really surprised about it,” Ferster said. “I did not expect it, especially being named first-team, because I’ll be the first to say my numbers in the conference were not great and I went through a little bit of a slump toward the end (of the season), but I am extremely honored by the award.”
He played in 40 games, starting in 36, and batted .344 (42-for-122) with 24 runs scored, four doubles, four triples, two home runs, 30 RBI and nine stolen bases in 12 attempts. He also had a .492 slugging percentage and .436 on-base average.
“I would give all the credit to the coaches for my success,” he said. “Coach Harrison was constantly helping me out with my swing and we made minor tweaks and changes all year long. I think the rest of the team helped out as well, because we all hit well and I wanted to keep up with everyone.”
Ferster played all outfield positions, second base for a couple of games, but was mainly designated hitter for the Yellow Jackets this year.
“I will play wherever the team needs me to play,” he said. “I would like to play more of the field next year. I’ve always been able to play multiple positions and I think that makes me valuable.
“By working on my arm strength and my speed, I think that will help me to be able to play anywhere I am needed.”
The Yellow Jackets had a record-setting year, finishing with 27 victories (27-13), the most in school history.
“I don’t think I fully understand what it means, because my mentality is to win every game I play,” Ferster said. “This is the first time since my freshman year of high school that I played on a team that was this much over .500, and we can only build on this for the future.”
Even with his success as a freshman, Ferster thinks the college game is definitely different from playing in high school.
“Playing on the summer team that I did – the Lake Erie Bulldogs – helped me with the transition (from high school to college), because the coaches treated us like college players,” he said. “The main thing is, the pitchers you see are better and you are no longer the best player on the team, and you’re always competing with the guys on your team.”
While adjusting to playing baseball in college might have been somewhat trying, adjusting to college life in general was no problem for him.
“I found it easy to adjust,” he said. “For me, it has always been school first, and then sports. I made sure that my school work gets done and then I can focus on baseball, but I’ve always been a student athlete, so it wasn’t that much of a change.”
He will be playing fall baseball this year to improve on what he has started this spring.
“I have never played (fall baseball) before, because I always had football (in high school). I am looking to specifically improve my speed, arm strength and bat speed.
“Every part of my game can be improved upon, and I can’t wait to have the extra time in the fall season to do so.”
As a senior at Olmsted Falls High School, Ferster was named first team All-Southwestern Conference, first team All-District and third team All-Ohio in football. In baseball, as a junior and senior at OFHS, he was named first team All-SWC, and as a senior he was named second-team All-Ohio.
“I think we always played good teams in high school, so that helped me (at the next level),” he said. “We always had intense practices, so that only helped me get better.”
Ferster’s younger brother Nathan will be joining him at B-W this fall, playing on the football team.
“Nate and me have always been playing on the same team, so it won’t be much of a change for us (this fall),” he said. “I am excited for him to be able to play football at B-W, and that he will be able to do it without me (on the team), because he has always come after me. For once, he doesn’t have to be compared to me. He can start fresh and really show people just how good he is.”
Ferster has high expectations for his baseball team next season and beyond.
“I think we will be a really competitive team in the future, and we can be as good as we let ourselves to be,” he said. “It was a great year for us, but I think missing out on the conference tournament the way we did – losing the last four games of the season – will help us (next year). I am excited to compete for a conference championship next season.”