Record-setter leads with experience, skill 

Rebs look toward MWC tourney, focus on Sferra’s guidance

Record-setter leads with experience, skill

After a rocky start to the season, senior outfielder J.J. Sferra leads the Rebels in the record books and stands out as a strong leader with the will to win. Photo by Mike Kelly

The Hustlin’ Rebels will need a strong leader if they want to make some noise in the Mountain West Conference Tournament. The record shows the team needs look no further than outfielder J.J. Sferra.

UNLV Baseball is on a three-game losing skid and the team lost seven of the last eight matches, but high hopes center on Sferra’s experience and high-energy leadership.

A senior and one of the most consistent hitters for the Rebels, he is known for motivating his team when the odds are against them. But more importantly, his athleticism can drive the match forward.

Sferra is more than happy to take on the role of leader for the Hustlin’ Rebels.

Sferra didn’t start with UNLV; in fact he played for one of the best teams in the nation, the Arizona State Sun Devils.  He played two years for ASU and got a taste of a college baseball player’s dream — the College World Series. 

After an injury, Sferra transferred to UNLV and instantly became one of the team’s best players and a vocal leader.  Life may have tested Sferra, but he has faced adversity and excelled and this year is no different.

Sferra’s senior season started out rough, as he went 2-for-13 in the opening three-game series against the University of Maine.  But soon, hits came easily and in abundance.

He is now hitting .371 in 51 games played and has etched his name into the record books.

His 28-game hit streak started on February 28 and lasted until April 22. The streak ranks third all-time in Rebel history.

“I didn’t know I had a streak until about 18 games when somebody said something.” Sferra said. “It’s always in the back of your mind. You want to do some cool things like that.”

Head coach Buddy Gouldsmith has taken notice of the senior’s accomplishment.

“It’s real special,” Gouldsmith said. “I don’t know the longest hit streak I have been a part of at this level, but for a guy to be that consistent… he really caught fire.” Gouldsmith said. “He is without question our catalyst, or spark plug.”

Though he admits it is cool to set a record, Sferra remains a team-first player.

“I just come in day in and day out and do my job, just as the lead-off guy,” he said. “Just do my job and get on base for our middle guys.  That is the main thing on my mind.”

Even in light of Sferra’s personal accomplishments, Gouldsmith acknowledges that the star player’s focus is on his team.

“It starts with him.  He is an exceptional college baseball player, and he does play hard and I think that’s why people feed off of him.” Gouldsmith concluded.

Sferra knows the Rebels will need to have the hunger to win this week as they will travel to Fort Worth for the MWC Tournament. He said, “We are just trying to get hot going into the conference tournament.”