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Male Breakout Athlete of the Year: Ferreira Lifts Baseball's Offense

Baseball's co-captain Ethan Ferreira had a breakout offensive season for the Crimson, leading the team in games played and batting average.
Baseball's co-captain Ethan Ferreira had a breakout offensive season for the Crimson, leading the team in games played and batting average. By Mark Kelsey
By Stephen J. Gleason, Crimson Staff Writer

After a lackluster season in 2014, the Harvard baseball team finished its 2015 campaign with the most wins it has had since 2007. The Crimson was led by an offense that hit .322 and averaged nearly six runs a game in Ivy League play.

The potent attack was led by co-captain Ethan Ferreira, Harvard’s starting catcher, cleanup hitter, and leader in virtually every offensive category. However, the catcher’s work ethic and leadership played just as big of a role in the team’s improved record as his work at the plate.

“He’s an extremely hard worker, and he put a lot of time and effort into his physical fitness and into his baseball skills, both on and off the field,” senior infielder Jake McGuiggan said. “That’s really what you want in a friend and a teammate, someone who leads by example, someone who works hard. Over the last four years, he’s built that up to have this really great senior year.”

Ferreira was the only member of the Crimson to appear in all 42 games, leading the team in hits, doubles, triples, home runs, runs batted in, batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage, while tying for the team lead in walks and runs.

The catcher had been poised to become Harvard’s starter behind the dish after appearing in 35 games during his freshman season, when his older brother Andrew was one of the team’s captains. But Ethan struggled to produce, missing much of his sophomore year with an injury and hitting just .238 with eight extra-base hits as a junior.

“After the first few weekends this year, my brother took me aside and relayed the approach that pro hitters use,” Ferreira said. “It really helped me out [and] helped me stay to the middle of the field. A lot of my hits this year were to the right side and up the middle. I think the past few years, I was really pull-heavy, and when you restrict yourself to one side of the field, it’s tough to do.”

Ferreira elevated his play once Harvard returned home for Ivy League play this season. In the team’s 20 conference games, he batted .380 and drove in 20 runs. Ferreira had at least one hit in 17 of those 20 contests. Additionally, the senior compiled a 21-game hitting streak over the course of the year.

“It was pretty consistent that Ethan, both before and after [our first day of conference play], was going to be really happy to be there,” sophomore catcher Josh Ellis said. “I learned a lot from sitting on the sideline and watching him. You felt his presence whether he was talking or not.”

While the numbers speak for themselves, few expected Ferreira to make the huge jump on the field that he did. In his final season, he raised his batting average by .123 points, drove in 19 more runs, doubled his walk total, recorded 25 more hits, scored 18 more runs, and even stole four bases.

Beyond the numbers, Ferreira also followed in his brother’s footsteps, serving as a co-captain this season with outfielder Jack Colton.

“Having 32 men in a locker room look up to you as one of the two leaders is something that I’m very honored to attain,” Ferreira said. “I was captain in high school of my baseball and football teams. That’s definitely shaped my work ethic because I wanted to prove that I’m a leader, and overall, I’m just very honored.”

—Staff writer Stephen J. Gleason can be reached at sgleason@college.harvard.edu.

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BaseballYear In Sports 2015Commencement 2015