Pioneer to be: Morgan’s Campbell to play for Marietta College

McCONNELSVILLE – Austin Campbell will be going from a Raider to a Pioneer.

The Morgan High baseball and football standout will continue his baseball career at the collegiate level for Marietta College after considering Wilmington, Ohio Valley and Denison.

“It’s close to home,” Campbell said. “Obviously a great baseball program. I just love the college and the campus.”

Campbell was very instrumental in the improvement of the Morgan baseball program. This spring, the Raiders finished with an above-.500 record for the first time since 2002. They also won 10 games in the Muskingum Valley League, the team’s highest total since 1996.

“He’s come a long way,” said Greg Gifford, Campbell’s coach at Morgan. “He had a good sophomore year. He was kind of disappointed with how his junior year went. As a senior, he really became a leader of our squad.

“He was a key component in our success. We had a group of seven seniors who worked hard together to improve. (Campbell) was a big team chemistry guy.”

Campbell hit for a high batting average at the top of the lineup for Gifford’s club this spring in addition to playing solid defense at shortstop.

“He’s a good on-base guy, a top of the lineup guy,” Gifford said. “Defensively, I thought he was by far the best in the MVL.”

For Campbell, the success his team enjoyed in 2013 will always stand out.

“Our seven seniors played together since 13-year-olds,” Campbell said. “Senior season, we beat teams we’d never beaten before.”

For Campbell, a two-time All-MVL and All-Eastern District performer, playing for the Etta Express is a special opportunity.

“It’s always been a goal and a dream of mine to play at Marietta College,” he said.

Brian Brewer-coached Marietta is a Division III powerhouse, and Campbell knows it will take hard work to crack the Pioneer lineup.

“I’ll have to get a lot bigger and stronger. A lot of weight room,” Campbell said. “I’ll have to do the little things. Hitting the ball backside, situational hitting, moving runners over, that kind of stuff.”

The versatile Campbell, after playing short this spring, moved to center field over the summer for Todd Engle’s Beverly/Lowell Post 389/750 ball club.

Campbell said he has no preference where he plays at MC.

“Anywhere that’s gonna make the team better,” he said.

Campbell, who bats from the left side, has proved time after time that he can deliver in pressure situations, a key attribute for any baseball position player.

During the American Legion District 11 tournament at Don Coss Field in Cambridge, Campbell produced game-changing at-bats two nights in a row.

In an elimination game against St. Clairsville Post 159, Campbell came up to bat with a runner at second base and two outs, his team down 6-5. Campbell came through with an opposite field single to left to plate the tying run. Beverly/Lowell went on to win 8-6.

The next night, Campbell stepped into the batter’s box with the bases loaded and no outs, his team down 5-3. The lefty ripped a triple down the right field line to clear the bases. Campbell ended up coming all the way around to score on a throwing error, putting Post 389/750 up 7-5. The club ended up winning 11-6 to advance to the district championship game.

At-bats like that could lead to a productive career in the pinstripes for Campbell, and just maybe, a seventh D3 World Series championship for the Pios.