Christine Campbell: In control while in the circle

0

W hen Christine Campbell was 8 years old, she was outside playing baseball with her brothers, throwing the ball in a circular, underhand motion, similar to that of a softball pitch.

Campbell’s father took notice and signed his daughter up to play. After her first year in the game, Campbell made the local softball all-star team and hasn’t left the mound in 13 years.

Campbell, now a junior, is the top pitcher for Lehigh’s softball team, leading her team in win percentage and ERA and ranked in the top five of the Patriot League in both categories. Last season, she was named first-team All-Patriot League, placing second in the league among pitchers in ERA and shutouts.

Campbell started playing on travel teams year-round in sixth grade and played for both her school and a travel team during her time in high school in San Diego, California.

“Travel ball was pretty much year-round because in California you could play-year round,” Campbell said. “We got two weeks off for Christmas and two weeks off for summer and that was about it.”

Her travel ball experience is what brought Campbell onto Lehigh coach Fran Troyan’s recruiting radar. Campbell was discovered on her travel team, the SoCal Breakers, which Troyan and his staff had been watching while recruiting her teammate, Emma Capetz, ’15.

Both Capetz and Campbell are listed in the SoCal Breakers Hall of Fame as athletes who have contributed greatly to the organization. Troyan and Campbell started emailing back and forth, ultimately leading to Campbell choosing to come to Lehigh.

It was the change-up that got her there.

“At our level, being able to throw pitches at different speed is really important,” Troyan said. “(Campbell) had a great change-up that we saw during the recruitment process, and she came here, and sure enough, it has really worked well at the collegiate level as well.”

Coming in freshman year, Campbell had a 10-7 record while leading the team in shutouts, with her first collegiate career win being a shutout against Sacred Heart University. She was the Patriot League Player of the Week twice.

Since then, Campbell has added a drop ball to her resume that senior catcher Carissa Zito said has progressed really well. Troyan said adding the drop ball has given Campbell another pitch that she can add to her arsenal and one that looks different to the batters.

“It’s been fun to work with her and work on her pitches,” Zito said. “She has definitely progressed.”

Campbell, though, is still working through some challenges.

Campbell’s biggest struggle as a pitcher has been the amount of free bases she gives up, a point of frustration for Troyan. Campbell currently leads the league in hit batters and walks, which Troyan sees as holding her back from moving from a great pitcher to one of the best pitchers.

“The combination of hit batters and bases on balls, if she could shore that up, she could go from being a truly outstanding pitcher to one of the better pitchers that we have ever had in our program,” Troyan said.

Whenever Campbell gives up a free base, Zito goes out to the circle to pull her back into the game. Zito said she gives Campbell a handshake and tells her to pitch like she knows how to pitch.

“She will just look at me and shake her head,” Zito said. “We have that connection where she just knows that I am there for her and she has me behind the plate.”

Campbell said Zito’s presence behind the plate for her has helped her progress and succeed over the past few years because Zito know how to talk to her. Campbell said Zito has been there and has been guiding her through the whole process.

“One of the biggest mental struggles as a pitcher is handling the pressure of the game.”
— CHRISTINE CAMPBELL

 

Campbell said one of the biggest things she has learned through playing softball both at Lehigh and back in California is how to be coachable. She’s learned how to take criticism without getting defensive. This is a lesson Campbell has applied outside of the field and in the classroom, and one she sees helping her in her professional career.

“I know it’s not my way or the highway,” Campbell said. “You have to listen to people who are trying to teach you and not take it defensively. Don’t defend yourself, just accept what they are saying and learn from it.”

Campbell has been able to use this lesson to transform her own perception of leadership and her leadership style. Throughout her time playing on different teams, Campbell has been able to observe many leaders and types of leadership, which has taught her how to carry herself on the field.

Through all of this, Campbell has learned how to adapt to people and their personalities.

Troyan said Campbell brings an infectious personality and high energy to games and practice. He said she is both loved and respected by her teammates and peers, as well as the coaching staff.

Campbell’s teammates have noticed this, too. Junior utility player Vicky Lattanzio said the Campbell always has a smile on her face while being one of the hardest working girls on the team.

“No matter what, she always brings energy,” Lattanzio said. “Whether it’s in the weight room, or the field, or even outside of softball.”

Campbell’s favorite parts of playing softball has nothing to do with the sport itself but rather with the family dynamic of the team. Campbell considers the women to be her sisters and says she knows pretty much everything about everyone.

Of the 18 Lehigh players, 11 are from California, which Campbell said adds to the family feeling. However, Campbell also credits the East Coast families, saying it’s that group that welcomes the West Coast players. Campbell said a lot of the East Coast parents will travel to the games, and she considers many of the team parents to be her own.

“I can name a ton of parents that I treat like my parents just because it is such a family atmosphere, and it’s a good dynamic that we have on the team,” Campbell said. “I love it.”

Junior pitcher Christine Campbell winds up for a pitch during the second game of a double header against Colgate University on Sunday, April 10, 2016, at Leadership Park. Campbell is the top pitcher for the Mountain Hawks, leading the team in win percentage. (Erik Thomas/B&W Photo) Junior pitcher Christine Campbell talks with senior catcher Carissa Zito between pitches of the second game of a double header against Colgate University on Sunday, April 10, 2016, at Leadership Park. Campbell said having Zito behind the plate has helped her progress and succeed over the past year. (Erik Thomas/B&W Photo) Junior pitcher Christine Campbell looks to the plate for the pitch call during the second game of a double header against Colgate University on Sunday, April 10, 2016, at Leadership Park. Campbell had five strikeouts during the game. (Erik Thomas/B&W Photo) Junior pitcher Christine Campbell talks with assistant coach Stephanie Covelle between innings of the second game of a double header against Colgate University on Sunday, April 10, 2016, at Leadership Park. Covelle has been the pitching coach for Lehigh softball for 12 years this season. (Erik Thomas/B&W Photo) Junior pitcher Christine Campbell and senior infielder Jessica Calvini high five between innings of the second game of a double header against Colgate University on Sunday, April 10, 2016, at Leadership Park. Campbell and Calvini do this ritual between innings of every game. (Erik Thomas/B&W Photo) Junior pitcher Christine Campbell steps up for a pitch during the second game of a double header against Colgate University on Sunday, April 10, 2016, at Leadership Park. Campbell's change-up is what coach Fran Troyan's eye when recruiting Campbell. (Erik Thomas/B&W Photo)
<
>
Junior pitcher Christine Campbell talks with senior catcher Carissa Zito between pitches of the second game of a double header against Colgate University on Sunday, April 10, 2016, at Leadership Park. Campbell said having Zito behind the plate has helped her progress and succeed over the past year. (Erik Thomas/B&W Photo)

More from: More than a Game

Lehigh’s Taylor Tvedt shares importance of team support

Two lines can have such an important meaning. Two lines — simple and unassuming — sit right above the knuckle on her ring finger and form an equals sign. Two lines that Taylor Tvedt got etched into her body to symbolize marriage equality. In that sense, Tvedt wears part of her identity on her sleeve — with a tattoo that

1 comment

Overhand: How Bethlehem and baseball have bonded generations

Tony Rinaldi, ’88, never threw underhand to his son. As local parents and neighbors stopped and awed at the then 3-year-old Anthony Rinaldi IV, now known as Ant, clubbing major league baseballs thrown overhand at the park, a second generation Lehigh baseball player was being born. Mustering a backswing with an aluminum bat no smaller

0 comments

Ball is life: Kayla Burton’s career as a basketball player

It’s 5 a.m. and pitch black outside. Kayla Burton’s alarm clock demands she wake up. As much as she wants stay in bed, the will to practice harder and continue to get better at playing the game she loves outweighs Burton’s desire to hit the snooze button and fall back asleep. Burton, a junior point

0 comments

Jeremy Kochman: From the bench to the spotlight

Just a few more strides, and he would be there. Though Jeremy Kochman’s body felt like it could not move another inch, he willed himself to keep running. He was almost to the other side of the tennis practice facility. He was going to make it, he only needed a second more. ‘Beep!’ The sudden

0 comments

Billy Oppenheimer: How a walk-on made his mark on Lehigh men’s lacrosse

Billy Oppenheimer walked onto Lehigh’s Banko Field for the first game of the 2016 season sporting an accessory unique to any player. A feather hung down from the back of his head, visible with his helmet on, which was attached by a headband. From afar it might seem strange. Opponents have actually made fun of him

0 comments

Basketball Beyond Borders: Jesse Chuku

To Lehigh men’s basketball senior Jesse Chuku, basketball is more than a game. It’s more than putting on a brown and white uniform and leaving your blood, sweat and tears on the court for four quarters. It’s more than playing in front a sellout record-breaking crowd at Stabler Arena for a championship title. “Basketball is

0 comments

Jamie Campisi: More than a game

When something isn’t the way it should be on the Lehigh women’s tennis team, it’s up to Jamie Campisi to fix it. As a junior captain of the team, Campisi has managed to find a seamless balance between shining on the tennis court and excelling academically, a skill that eludes many players of her caliber. It’s

0 comments

Comment policy


Comments posted to The Brown and White website are reviewed by a moderator before being approved. Incendiary speech or harassing language, including comments targeted at individuals, may be deemed unacceptable and not published. Spam and other soliciting will also be declined.

The Brown and White also reserves the right to not publish entirely anonymous comments.

Leave a Comment

More in Sports
Women’s track and field rises, men’s golf falls in second edition of spring sport rankings

Here is the second edition of our spring sport rankings. Most sports have seen their season come to a close, but...

Close