CNE’s Ferguson SSU baseball-bound

BATAVIA — For three seasons, Nick Ferguson proved himself as one of Clermont Northeastern’s — and the Southern Buckeye Academic-Athletic Conference’s — best baseball talents.

Now, the standout pitcher and first baseman has an opportunity to make up for a lost season that was out of his control.

Ferguson, an all-SBAAC student-athlete, will continue his baseball career at the next stage when the 6-2, 185-pound right-hander makes his way to the Shawnee State program for the 2021 campaign on forward.

“It means a lot to me because I wanted to play college baseball since I was a little kid,” Ferguson said. “Committing to Shawnee State is such a relief, because I know that I will be continuing my athletic and academic career at a place that I absolutely fell in love with.”

At Clermont Northeastern, Ferguson proved to be an immediate difference-maker for the Rockets.

After posting a 4-2 record and 36 strikeouts in 35-and-one-third innings pitched during his freshman year, the multi-year letterwinner greatly improved over his remaining appearances.

As a sophomore, Ferguson proved himself as arguably the best pitcher on the Rockets’ staff, going 5-0 with an electric 1.09 ERA while striking out 53 batters in 38-and-one-third innings of work, helping Clermont Northeastern nearly match its 2017 record (15-12, 7-3 SBAAC) with a 14-12 mark and a 9-3 tally in conference play — despite strong graduation losses from the year prior.

To make his sophomore year even sweeter, four of Ferguson’s five victories on the mound came via shutout, and at the plate, he raised his batting average by 132 points — from .136 as a freshman to a solid .268 as a sophomore.

In his junior campaign, Ferguson improved further, clearly establishing himself as the team’s workhorse by going a strong 10-2 on the year with a 1.81 ERA, all while notching 73 strikeouts in 61-and-two-thirds innings pitched.

He led the SBAAC in wins and finished second in the conference in strikeouts as a result.

Ferguson also made even further improvements at the dish, rocketing his batting average up another 70 points to a strong .338 — while adding six doubles and 23 runs batted in as a junior for a unit that won the 2019 SBAAC-National Division championship with an unblemished 12-0 mark in conference play.

Due to his play on the mound and at first base, Clermont Northeastern ultimately finished 19-6, while Ferguson racked up back-to-back all-SBAAC first-team honors for his performances.

Ferguson was also named as a 2020 all-SBAAC honoree as a way to honor all seniors whose seasons had been abrupted by the spread of COVID-19.

“It was the best three years of my life,” Ferguson said of his time at CNE. “My teammates pushed each other everyday and were very supportive at the same time. I made friendships with teammates that I didn’t think I would be very close with. I wouldn’t have picked another group of guys to spend two months with over the past couple of years. “I was given a chance to make friendships that will last forever with not only my teammates, but also a coach (in Tyler Sanders) that I couldn’t thank enough. The support that CNE has for their players is what made playing there something that I will never forget.”

With many varsity innings under his belt, both on the mound and in the infield, Ferguson’s clearly well-versed at both positions.

After all, Clermont Northeastern posted a respectable 48-30 record and a 28-6 SBAAC mark in Ferguson’s three years while never finishing lower than second in conference action — due in large part to his career 2.42 ERA on the mound as well as his 45 RBI and 28 walks in 186 plate appearances.

“Playing first and pitching for CNE was a great time,” Ferguson said. “They are similar because you have to handle the ball a lot at both positions, but they’re different because when you are pitching, you have all of the control of the game. Having the ball in my hands, on the mound, would put an adrenaline rush through my body because I knew that I had to do what I needed to do to make sure that my team was in a good spot to win.”

For Ferguson, his next steps are to grow with SSU in any way possible.

The future sport management major is simply excited to improve under the tutelage of Phil Butler and Casey Claflin — as well as alongside and with his future teammates.

“They (the coaching staff and players) made it an easy choice for me,” Ferguson said. “They answered any questions that I had, and are just great people. I can’t wait to spend the next four years with them. I’m ready to do what it takes to get a degree, build a strong future, and make lifelong friendships.”

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