Just a Thought: Zay’s Demeanor off the Field Just as Impressive

Sports
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If you’ve never had the chance to talk with Isaiah Campbell, you’re missing out.  This guy is a phenomenal example for Arkansas (elite of course as a pitcher), a calming presence and leader for the Razorbacks filling big shoes this season.  How do you follow a guy who went 14-0 (Blaine Knight last year)? As simple as it sounds, you lock in on the process (train like you need to train with Blaine Kinsley, Hog Strength & Conditioning Coach), embrace the journey.  With so much riding on Arkansas’ Ace the year after the Hogs’ run to the CWS Finals, really, what more can you ask of Campbell?  For the Razorback Faithful, just stay the course to Omaha, sure, but wow, this Redshirt Junior has been electrifying in a year when Arkansas’ number two and three starters were question marks at the outset.

This morning, I saw a tweet from Kinsley that read, “Champions behave like champions before they’re champions.” That perfectly sums up Campbell who brings laser-like focus this year.  

He wasn’t named All-SEC, but he’s clearly All-SEC-esque.  He was asked Saturday if he’s thought about the MLB Draft, and said no, that it’s all about winning a National Title.

Now to some numbers: 108 strikeouts from Campbell through 16 starts this season.  Knight had 102 all of last year.  Only three home runs allowed by Zay. Knight gave up 18 dingers (for the record, I think the world of Knight. This isn’t a major comparison game, just a little perspective).  Campbell’s ERA is at 2.27.

Look at notables from recent outings:

8 IP, 8 Strikeouts, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 108 Pitches: Win vs. TCU 

5 IP (Pulled Early to Stay Fresh for NCAA Tourney), 0 ER, 2 Hits vs. Georgia (SEC Tournament)

6 IP, 6 Strikeouts, 1 ER, 102 Pitches: Win at Texas A&M

6 IP, 2 ER, 95 Pitches: Win vs. LSU

7 IP, 1 ER, 6 Strikeouts, 104 Strikeouts: Win at Kentucky

You know, the only time I’ve seen him really rattled this year was against Tennessee (and he had a good case even though he had a bad outing).  Zay got squeezed on some calls by the home plate umpire, and the Vols typically capitalized shortly thereafter.  Other than that, Campbell has been awesome all year.

He’s only walked 19 in 103 Innings Pitched. He’s 11-1, and like Knight from last year, he has a four pitch combo he can turn to (Fastball, slurve, cutter, splitter).  I can’t praise Campbell enough.  Overheard someone last night after the postgame press conference saying, “you know, the Diamond Hogs handle themselves so well.” Couldn’t agree more as Campbell continues to set the tone.

(Note: Just a Thought is a commentary piece from Drew Amman that appears each week in the Pig Trail Nation)

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