By Rob Kiser
With former Piqua High School softball coach Rick Claprood retiring and moving to Florida, the Lady Indians were looking for a new coach to run the program.
And they have found that person in Greg Campbell, who was hired recently.
Campbell has coach softball at a number of levels and was the Salem (Ind.) Lions varsity coach for four years, as well coaching the travel team for four years.
“I met with the kids last week and I was very excited,” Campbell said. “We had 21 girls at the meeting. I expect to have 22 to 30 girls at the tryouts. That should allow us to have a varsity and JV program, which is very important. I also believe we will have good numbers with the JV program.”
At Salem, Campbell was able to create enthusiasm and excitement for the program and he looks to do the same thing at Piqua.
I come from a school (Salem) that is about a third the size of Piqua. We had 43 kids in the high school program and 63 in the junior high program. That is the kind of excitement for the program we want to have here.”
And he did that in a variety of ways. He made sure each of the high school players attended youth softball games and cheered on the future Lady Lions. The team also involved in the community, through various actitvities like ringing Salvation Army bells at Christmas time and putting on a Little Lady Lions Clinic for young girls.
“The youth programs are the foundation of a program,” Campbell said. “You can have good season, but to put a program together you have to build from the youth up. I have coached at different levels, but the high school and 18U age group is the group I really enjoy coaching.”
Campbell credits two women with being instrumental in his success as Salem’s coach.
I had two coaches that really helped me. Coach Morris was a basketball star at Bradley University. She didn’t necessarily know the game of softball, but she did a great job of showing me how to create cohesion and bringing the players together.
Morgan Hasty was a girl who played for me and was a Division II All-American at Johnson C Smith in North Carolina. She came back after finishing college and she taught me how to push the kids and get them to that next level.”
Campbell made the move to Piqua two years ago and coached the seventh grade team last spring.
“I thought I was done with it (coaching softball),” Campbell said. “But, I got back into it and when the opportunity presented itself I knew this is something I wanted to do.”
He will get a chance to meet a lot of the players next week when conditioning begins.
“We start conditioning next week and I can’t wait,” Campbell said. “Just to get to know some of the girls. They won’t all be there because some of them are playing other sports. but a lot of them will be.”
Eric Blankenship will stay on as varsity assistant and Leslie Reichert will return this spring as well.
The Lady Indians will be looking to rebound from a 6-21 season a year ago.
“I had some of the girls tell me they weren’t as bad as the record indicated,” Campbell said. “But, you are what your record is. I looked at a couple of the stats from last year. They had more than 100 errors last year.
“We need to cut down on that. And we want to raise the team batting averaged from .314 to .335. I can’t wait (for the spring) to get to work, put a competitive team on the field and try to improve on last year. I do know we have some talented kids from the junior high coming into the program this year.”
Campbell knows he has a short time to get to know the girls and get ready for the season.
“I am sure they are a little apprehensive (with a new coach),” Campbell said. “That is natural. But, I am excited about the opportunity.”
And can’t wait to bring that excitement and enthusiasm to the Piqua program.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.