With blazing speed and her ability to get hits, Malia Campos is the Bruins softball equivalent of baseball’s Ichiro Suzuki, a left handed hitting machine that gets on base and sets the table for the rest of the team.
“Malia is an exceptional athlete,” says Mary Kay Amicone, head coach of the Bruins softball team. “She has great instincts at the plate and has the speed to get on base. She is a game changer.”
Campos’ speed and hitting ability helped lead the Bruins to NJCAA National Runner-Up in 2012 and she was named as a NJCAA First Team All-American. Campos has continued her success this year as she leads the SLCC team in hitting with a .454 batting average and a team leading 79 base hits. Campos was recently selected to the 2013 Region 18 All-Tournament team.
Campos credits her success to her Murray high school coach, Lisa Parker, who quite literally helped turn her game around. Even though Campos is a natural right handed hitter, Parker suggested that she try batting left handed. Despite struggles with the change during her junior year, Campos with the help of her coach worked her way to becoming an elite left handed hitter.
“Even though I struggled hitting left handed initially, coach Parker encouraged me to stick with it,” says Campos. “Making the switch has really opened doors for me; I would not be the hitter that I’m today if it weren’t for that.”
Becoming a left handed hitter allowed Campos to become what’s known in softball as a “slapper”. A slapper is a left handed batter that steps up on the pitch and looks to hit it into a gap between the fielders and uses her speed to safely beat the throw to first base.
This transition has led to Campos becoming the sparkplug of a powerful Bruins offense where she bats leadoff and has the highest on base percentage on the team. Being on base is where Campos feels most comfortable and allows her to take advantage of her speed.
It’s on the base paths that Campos is able to strike fear into her opponents with her daring dashes between bases that showcases her breathtaking speed.
Opposing teams have been unable to slow her down this year as she has 36 stolen bases. Her ability to get hits and steal bases has led to a team leading 68 runs scored which is a major factor in the Bruins success.
“My goal is to draw the defense in and then blast it past them,” says Campos. “They don’t know where to play me because I can hit it hard and soft, and I’m really fast.”
The speed of Campos has helped lead The No. 6-ranked Bruins (48-9, 38-6 SWAC) into contention for a national championship. The Bruins came within one out of becoming national champions last year and the heartache of losing has been a source of motivation for Campos this season. The Bruins recently won their fifth consecutive Region 18 championship and are headed back to the NJCAA nationals this week.
“Last year, we were so close to winning, and we all feel super bitter about losing,” says Campos. “We are so hungry to get back to the championship game and seal the deal this time.”
As a sophomore, this season serves as Campos last chance to win a national championship with the Bruins. Next year she will be taking her dazzling speed and daredevil skills on the bases south to Utah Valley University. Campos is deeply motivated to help rally her team to a national championship and make up for last year’s disappointment.
“We have great team chemistry and mesh well together on the field,” says Campos. “It was hard watching the other team celebrate last year. We want to be the team that’s celebrating on the field this year”