Lane Community College's Student Newspaper

The Tigard connection

Posted on April 24, 2014 | in Baseball, NWAACC, Sports | by

[Eugene Johnson/ The Torch]

Tucker Campbell, sophomore, has been a defensive leader for the Titans this season after his transfer from Linfield College. [Eugene Johnson/ The Torch]

[Eugene Johnson/ The Torch]

Sophomore center-fielder Spencer Smith is leading the Titans in stolen bases and is second in hits and RBIs after sitting out last season. [Eugene Johnson/ The Torch]

[Alyssa Sutton/ The Torch]

Sophomore Spencer Smith and Tucker Campbell. [Alyssa Sutton/ The Torch]

Tucker Campbell, sophomore, has been a defensive leader for the Titans this season after his transfer from Linfield College. [Eugene Johnson/ The Torch]Sophomore center-fielder Spencer Smith is leading the Titans in stolen bases and is second in hits and RBIs after sitting out last season. [Eugene Johnson/ The Torch]Sophomore Spencer Smith and Tucker Campbell. [Alyssa Sutton/ The Torch]

Former high school teammates push the Titans atop the South Region

Two years ago, it would have been hard to imagine Spencer Smith and Tucker Campbell playing college baseball at the same school.

Now, they’re not only on the same team, but they are two key pieces of a Lane squad that is on the verge of returning to the playoffs for the first time since 2011.

Smith, a center fielder, and Campbell, the Titans’ starting shortstop, are two of the top bats in the Titans’ lineup. Smith is second on the team in batting average and leads in stolen bases, while Campbell is tied for second in RBIs and doubles.

They shined on the defensive end as well. Smith has played nearly error-free defense in the outfield, while Campbell is one of the top defensive shortstops in the conference according to Lane head coach Josh Blunt.

“Both of those two have a really similar style of play that stands out,” Blunt said “They play hard all the time. They help other players all the time. Just watching them run on and off the field, they have an energy to their game. They’re coaches on the field.”

Although they are cornerstones of a team full of sophomores who are hungry for a regional title, both Smith and Campbell took unconventional paths to arrive at this point.

Both players attended Tigard High School in Tigard and helped lead the Tigers to a sec- ond-round appearance in the 2012 6A Oregon School Activities Association playoffs during Smith’s senior and Campbell’s junior years.

Campbell’s grandfather, Tom Campbell, coached them during their entire high school careers, and helped instill the same disciplined style of baseball that is obvious while watching them play today.

“We really focus on our defense, both infield and outfield,” Campbell said. “And also base-running.

You don’t always have the luxury of having a great offensive team, but you can always run the bases well. So our emphasis has been base-running and bunting the ball and just executing on things that you have control over.“

Until Smith’s junior season, he played second base and combined with Campbell to form the middle of the Tigers’ infield.

While Smith says they were a solid double play duo, Campbell jokes that wasn’t the case.

“I was,” Campbell said. “I had to kind of make up for him.”

It wasn’t until his senior year that Smith made the move to center field, after impressing Tom Campbell one day while running down fly balls during batting practice.

“After talking to another coach, we said ‘lets take a look at him in the outfield,’” Campbell said. “He went in and he looked like he had played there his entire life. He transitioned almost instantly to the outfield and he just got better and better from that point on.”

After his senior season, Tom Campbell, who had a good relationship with former Titans head coach Dean Styles, encouraged Smith to attend Lane. Although he was recruited by Styles, Smith played his freshman year under Blunt after Styles accepted a job as pitching coach at the University of Oregon.

During the 2012 season, Smith was one of the Titans’ top players. He was second on the team in hits and runs scored, and was selected to the NWAACC Southern Region All-Star team.

However, during the 2012-13 school year, Smith chose to dual-enroll at Lane and UO, and ended up sitting out the 2013 baseball season in order to focus on academics and clear up enrollment issues.

While some would have seen a season away from the game as a setback, Smith, who still practiced and traveled with the team, found a way to use it to his advantage.

“I actually feel like it was kind of a blessing in disguise,” Smith said. “I was able to take a year and really develop some of the aspects of my game that I hadn’t been able to before. It definitely heightened my appreciation for the game.”

Blunt said Smith is one of the few players he’s seen who used their year off wisely.

“As good of a leader as he was, he got to be a better leader,” Blunt said. “I thought the difference between him playing and not playing was the difference in us not making the play-offs.”

While Smith spent the 2013 season on the sideline, Campbell was enrolled at Linfield College in McMinnville, where he played one year for the Wildcats.

Although he saw little playing time there, Campbell gained valuable experience playing for a Wildcats team that was crowned Division III national champions.

“Every day at practice was really competitive,” Campbell said. “It was almost game-like every single day at practice and it was something that was really cool to be a part of.”

Campbell said that midway through the season he knew that he wanted to transfer to a larger school where he would have the opportunity for more playing time.

He had considered Lane after high school and knew that with the Titans he would have a chance to improve his skills and increase his chances of moving on to the next level.

He was comfortable switching cities because he had a lot of friends already living in Eugene, but admitted that Smith being on the team helped ease the transition to Lane.

“Playing in college with him was something I was always very interested in, but I didn’t think it would happen,” Campbell said. “He was always one of my favorite guys to play with, and that’s another reason that I came to Lane. Because I knew he was going to be here.”

Comment via Facebook

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Recent Posts

Torch logo The Torch staff: advice and learning Alyssa sutton Editor-in-chief For the last time, I am creating a document on Google Drive,...
Torch logo Athletics pinches pennies Coaches decide how to accomodate 24 percent budget reduction After taking a 24 percent revenue...
Signing_Sports_AS Bemidji scoops up second Titan For the second time in four weeks, a Lane basketball player has committed to play...
Torch logo 15 titans will transfer A third-place finish at the NWAACC tournament, three players selected for the All-NWAACC team and...
Luke McKay was a 2013 All-American and placed third at the northwest athletic association of Community Colleges Championship in 2013. His personal record is 15 feet 3 inches. File/The Torch From Port-au-Prince to pole vault pit Luke McKay overcomes odds, reconnects with family Lane track standout Luke McKay’s journey to Eugene...

Torch Twitter

Archives

April 2014
M T W T F S S
« Mar   May »
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
282930