The scouting report is in.
When Salt Lake Community College leadoff hitter Malia Campos steps into the batter’s box, scoot up.
The speedy left-handed batter can drop down a perfectly placed bunt or she will slap and run. Either way, the stopwatch is ticking.
You have 2.7 seconds from the moment the ball leaves the bat to field the ball and throw her out.
There is no room for error, because even if the defense plays it perfectly, chances are you are not getting her out.
Making matters worse: Just when you start to crowd her, she will power up and go shopping in the gap. The many ways she can get on base outnumber the ways you can get her out.
“She’s able to bunt or slap, which makes her hard to defend against because of her speed,” SLCC coach Mary Kay Amicone said. “She’s our offensive spark plug, but she’s much more than that. She’s made some unbelievable catches in center field. She’s got great instincts and is a feisty leader.”
Campos has been a key to SLCC’s 18-3 start to the season. She’s riding a 17-game hitting steak and sports a .542 batting average along with a .609 on-base percentage entering the week. She also has eight stolen bases, one double, three triples, one home run and seven RBIs.
All the noise she’s making at the plate has not gone unnoticed by opposing teams.
“I’ve noticed the pitching patterns have changed,” Campos said. “They have been pitching me way outside, hoping I will get myself out or they will try to jam me inside. I’m usually a power slapper and draw the defense in and then try to blast it by the infield. I’ve been hitting the gaps and stretching it into doubles and triples. This year I’ve really tried to master the soft game, getting base hits on bunts.”
When she does reach base, she’s usually not content to stay put. She has yet to be thrown out while trying to steal this season.
“What that tells me is I need to steal her more,” Amicone said with a laugh.
“My role is to get on base and score,” Campos said. “When I get on base, I love to steal. I’m just really aggressive.”
Her success has not surprised those who have followed her career. She was a three-time first-team all-state player who was named 5A MVP during her senior year at Murray High School.
It doesn’t seem to matter what level she’s playing — high school or college — her personal motto fits: Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen and others make it happen.