College softball: Murray's Campos perfected her batting at SLCC
Malia Campos' responsibility as the leadoff hitter was to get on base so that her Salt Lake Community College teammates could bring her home.
She obviously took that role and ran with it literally.
The Murray High graduate recently finished her sophomore year at SLCC with her second consecutive selection as a National Fast-Pitch Coaches Association first team All-American, among a bevy of other honors and awards.
"I'm not a dominating pitcher or all-star hitter," Campos said. "The little guy usually doesn't get noticed. I just do my job. I'm honored that people have noticed my accomplishments. It's really flattering. I'm so thankful."
Campos hit .455 with 83 runs, 91 hits and 35 walks this season. She was successful in 39 of 41 stolen-base attempts, hit 11 doubles, drove in 32 runs and had an on-base percentage of .544. She struck out just 14 times in 200 at-bats.
Perhaps more impressive, the Bruins were 112-20 during Campos' tenure, reaching the national championship game each year.
"I don't feel I hit my peak until college," Campos, 20, said. "You train more and practice more. It makes you better. I got way better in college."
Primarily a slap bunter who used her speed to get on base in high school, Campos did more with her at-bats at SLCC. She was the table-setter for her team, learning how to control her bunts as well as perfect the standard hit.
Though she batted second at Murray, Campos quickly adjusted to leadoff.
"I get to start things off," she said. "It's up to me how the first of the game goes. I like that pressure. I really didn't think how I would perform. I cannot think more than that. That's where I get myself in trouble. I have to play loose."
Campos was named Most Outstanding Offensive Player at the NJCAA Nationals, hitting .426 with 15 runs and eight RBIs, including an inside-the-park grand slam. She also was named to the NJCAA and Region 18 all-tournament teams and made the all-region first team as an outfielder (center field).
Bruin coaches were impressed with her all-around ability.
"As the leadoff hitter, we asked her to work counts and find ways to be on base," Bruin assistant coach Kate Nygaard said. "Her being on base started our offense. She covers so much ground in the outfield that it allowed our pitchers to trust the pitch because they knew she could track it down."
Campos has made a penchant for coming up big in big games. She thrives against better competition, which seems to bring the most out of her.
"I've always played way better against better teams," Campos said. "In high school, I shined in the playoffs and against better teams. In college, we play a good team every time. There's so much more on the line."
Fellow Murray products Tanisha Anderson and Maddy Woodard joined Campos at SLCC, helping her feel more at home. Woodard, a shortstop, hit .394, and Anderson, a left fielder, hit .365 for the Bruins this season.
Campos, who earned a scholarship to Utah Valley University next season, will remember all the fun times she had at SLCC.
"I would never have chosen another college," she said. "I hope I made a name for myself. I'll remember not so much my accomplishments, but the memories that were created and the people I met. I'm going [to UVU] with the same expectations I'm going to get on base and do my job in the outfield."
She plans to major in psychology or social health, with intentions of becoming a high-school counselor.