SLN All-Area Baseball 2017

Zach Campbell will play baseball at UW-Whitewater next season. He hit .412 for the Demons last spring. (Rick Benavides/SLN)

 

By Mike Ramczyk

sports@southernlakesnewspapers.com

After a magical 2016 season that saw the Burlington Demons win their first state baseball championship, the pitching outlook was a huge question mark entering this season.

Gone was 2016 All-Area Player of the Year Aaron Mutter and Wichita State recruit Jacob Lindemann, last season’s ace, was unable to pitch due to an arm injury.

Without an experienced ace, Burlington coach Scott Staude turned to crafty left-hander Zach Campbell, who earned a one-inning save in the team’s state title victory over Arrowhead.

Campbell, who hit leadoff and was a key figure in the state championship run, took his game to another level.

“Soup,” as he is affectionately referred to, embraced the leadership role, dominating with a 6-1 record and a 1.63 ERA while hitting .412.

Campbell was as clutch as anyone in the area, smashing three hits in a sectional semifinal win over Kenosha Indian Trail and shutting down Waterford in the sectional final to lead the Demons to their second consecutive state tournament appearance.

A three-year varity starter, Campbell helped lead the Demons to 58 wins, two Southern Lakes Conference titles and two state trips.

He earned first team Wisconsin Baseball Coaches Association all-state honors as a utility player and player of the year in both Racine County and the SLC.

Campbell, who will play for UW-Whitewater next season, had 15 RBIs from the leadoff spot and stole 11 bases.

An excellent center fielder, Campbell didn’t commit an error in the field.

“With the first week of practice I was looked at as a leader right away and a guy that the younger kids could look up to so I knew there was pressure,” Campbell said. “But I embraced it and handled it as well as I could.”

Campbell is the 2017 Southern Lakes Newspapers All-Area Player of the Year.

Recently, SLN caught up with the recent Burlington graduate to talk about his successful career with the Demons and his breakout season.

 

SLN: What does it mean to receive all these postseason awards?

ZC: It is a great honor to receive all of these postseason awards because it shows that my hard work has paid off. But it also shows how hard my teammates worked to get the team and program where it is today.

SLN: How were you guys able to get back to state?

ZC: At the beginning of the year, we didn’t think much about getting back to state. We were focused on winning games and if it happened, it happened. Once we got to sectionals we realized that we had a strong chance to make it back so we capitalized on the opportunity in front of our home crowd. I improved my pitching in the summer with the help of the pitching coach at Carthage College who gave me private lessons.

SLN: How did you embrace your leadership role?

ZC: Being a senior always brings leadership, but being a captain, the starting pitcher, and leadoff hitter, there was a lot more pressure on me to lead the team.

I took the reigns from last year’s seniors and we didn’t miss a beat. It started with going to all the open gyms in the winter and being there to help the younger guys get back into the swing of things. And with the first week of practice I was looked at as a leader right away and a guy that the younger kids could look up to so I knew there was pressure. But I embraced it and handled it as well as I could.

SLN: How has playing club ball for the Hitters helped your game?

ZC: Playing for Hitters for four years really helped bring my game to the next level. They taught me many little things about the game that go unnoticed to many people but still impact the game in a crucial way.

SLN: How did UW-Whitewater notice you?

ZC: Coach Staude recommended that the UWW coaching staff take a look at me at the end of my junior year. They saw me play at a few places and saw me at a showcase. I went and visited in the fall and fell in love with it as soon as I stepped onto campus and the rest was history.

SLN: What will your remember most about Demon baseball?

ZC: The most memorable thing about my high school career was definitely winning the first baseball state championship and bringing the whole city together because of it.

SLN: How did you get your start in baseball?

ZC: My dad would always bring me to games and watch it on TV. I would always hit wiffle balls in the yard when I was young. Once I was old enough to play organized baseball, I did and it was something that came naturally.

SLN: What are your goals in college?

ZC: I will be studying Accounting and General Management with an emphasis in sports. I hope to win a lot of games at UWW and bring home a National Championship.

 

Meet Zach Campbell

Baseball is… my life.

I am the player of the year because… of all my coaches and my family.

Favorite movie: “Field of Dreams”

Favorite Song: “Something I’m Good At,” Brett Eldredge

Pregame ritual: I don’t have a pregame food ritual, but I do get dressed the same way and listen to country music before every game.

Ideal hangout? At a friend’s house in the basement or around the pool

Favorite Social Media: Snapchat

In 10 years? I will be a CPA and working somewhere that utilized my two majors.

If you could have dinner with anyone dead or alive, who would it be and why?

Derek Jeter, because I would like to hear about his historic career and everything that came with it.

 

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