Madison's Hunter Ferris throws a pitch during the American Legion Post 9 game on Wednesday. Ferris signed with Cincinnati Christian before the game. (Staff photo by David Campbell)
Madison's Hunter Ferris throws a pitch during the American Legion Post 9 game on Wednesday. Ferris signed with Cincinnati Christian before the game. (Staff photo by David Campbell)
From playing catch in the backyard to taking the mound at Gary O’Neal Field, Hunter Ferris’ baseball journey has revolved around throwing a baseball. Now the 2019 Madison graduate has the opportunity to continue that journey at the next level.

Ferris officially announced his future plans on Wednesday afternoon at Madison Consolidated High School, signing his national letter of intent to play baseball at Cincinnati Christian University with family, coaches and administrators by his side. The former Cub heads to Ohio this fall and is anxious to continue his career as a student-athlete.

“I’m very excited,” Ferris said after his signing. “Its been a dream of mine all my life to continue playing baseball at the college level. I want to continue to play baseball as long as I can and I really think the school and the team that I’ve picked will give me that chance to continue.”

Cincinnati Christian, an NAIA school, has been a recent destination for student-athletes in the area in various sports but now includes a Madison athlete on its baseball roster for the first time. Ferris, who plans to continue on as a pitcher for the Eagles, says playing at a smaller school was an immediate attention-getter along with the potential for playing time right away.

Academics fit into the plan too. Ferris also noted that while the baseball program caught his eye, so did the school’s business program, where he will be a business management major.

“They’ve got a great business program and there’s plenty of opportunities the school offers with businesses in Cincinnati,” Ferris noted. “On the baseball side the coaches really welcomed me in and they said I had the chance to come in from the start and pitch and maybe play some outfield. I like smaller schools with not as many students so I see all of this as a perfect fit.”

Although dealing with injuries at various times throughout his high school career, including an ACL injury two years ago, Ferris was able to make a comeback his senior year of high school, starring for a Cubs team that made it to the 3A sectional championship game this past season before losing to South Dearborn. Despite the loss, Ferris says that sectional will go down as one of his top memories while wearing a Cub uniform.

“Being able to finally get a sectional win after going without for so long is one of the bigger memories I have,” Ferris said of his high school career. “We were able to make it to the championship game which is always a big accomplishment. Aside from that, I’d say winning the MCIT two years in a row also is one of the things I’ll always remember.”

Madison head coach Tim Armstrong says that while Ferris has helped lay the foundation for the resurgence of Cubs baseball, his best days are still ahead of him. That potential showed following his signing on Wednesday. Ferris pitched four strong innings in American Legion baseball action for Armstrong and Madison Post 9, allowing just two hits against Oldham County Post 39 in a 7-6 victory.

“Hunter is a special kid,” Armstrong said of his hurler. “I get a little bit emotional because I had him all three years that I’ve been back here at Madison. He wants to play the game and loves the game. He’s actually young for his class so I think the room is there to tap into some potential we haven’t seen yet. I told that to several colleges who came in and looked at him. I’m extremely proud of him and the way he has battled back to get to this point.”

Armstrong noted that some of that room for potential could gain traction once Ferris steps into the weight room and the future Eagle expressed the same sentiment. A conditioning program and nutrition program at the college level should add some weight to Ferris’s lanky, but developing frame, along with building more power in his pitching arm.

“I need to start lifting weights more,” Ferris admitted. “Obviously the competition level gets better so I need to be stronger and faster. It’s going to be a process that I will have to work at daily.”

“If we can just get him into a body,” Armstrong said. “He gets in on the nutrition and weight programs and I think you’ve got a late bloomer in the game and I told colleges that early on. Get a caboose on him and get him stronger and his potential will be unlimited.”

Cincinnati Christian, coached by John Taylor, finished 13-39 in 2019. The Eagles open the 2020 season on January 31 at Piedmont International University.