Reganne Camp means business whenever she is on the mound. The jet black sunglasses mean more than a stern facial expression from the ace of the softball staff. She brings the impression of being “The Terminator” to any hitter that enters the batter’s box but not because of her frequently thrown change-up. It is because she made the promise that she will be back.
“I can tell you Reganne’s game face, behind those darkened sunglasses, there is a glare and there is a different look in her eye,” Pirates coach Paige Smith said. “Our team wants to win, and they are going to play hard behind people that want to compete, and I do not know any team that does not respond to someone who puts in the work."
“She came back one point last year and she said she decided that 100 percent when she came here, she was coming here to be the best softball player she could be," Smith said. "I was underestimated out of high school, and I have always been the underdog, and I have relished that and for a while before I lost that. I got wrapped up in the college life.’'"
Any player can say that, but Smith knows that Camp has entirely backed it up with her play.
Smith knows the determination of her right-hander, but not just from her promise or the hardcore rap that she hears from her office when Camp is working out late in the batting cages. Smith expects the intense work ethic from Camp, as she is one of the most competitive players that Smith has ever coached.
“She is fierce,” Smith said. “She will flip a table on you if you are beating her in checkers.”
In her freshman year, Camp made 16 starts in 25 appearances, finishing the season with a 2.96 ERA. In her following campaign, Camp was seventh in the Big East in ERA at 3.29 and third in the conference in innings pitched. Despite a dip in her ERA, Camp displayed why she is the unquestioned leader of the pitching rotation.
For Camp, taking charge does not just come when stepping on the rubber at Mike Sheppard Sr. Field, it also comes when investing herself into her teammates.
“I definitely want to take leadership, take charge and lead this team,” Camp said. “But if I need some help, I cannot do it all myself.”
As in any team sport, chemistry and cohesiveness are needed to succeed. One person cannot carry a program without the institution of a family atmosphere within the locker room. Although this should be apparent for an entire team, the pitchers are especially intertwined.
“We definitely push each other and strive to be better the next day. But we also have each other’s backs in case someone does not have a very good day,” Camp said. “It’s like, ‘Hey I got you, it’s no big deal.’”
Knowing how to control the personalities in the locker room is a keen aspect in a leader, and control is not something Camp takes lightly. Control has molded Camp into the athlete that she is today.
“I like being in control of the game,” Camp said. “That is definitely why I became a pitcher in the first place. I like to be in control of the pace of the game. I also used to play outfield, and I hated outfield, hated never having the ball. I like having control of the game and knowing that my hard work pays off.”
Camp’s favorite part of controlling a game is when everything is on the line.
“Obviously you never want bases loaded, but I love when I have bases loaded and you get that strikeout to end the game,” Camp said. “The other team is like ‘Oh we almost had it’ and it’s like ‘Oh, you thought, nope, you’re done.’”
The ability on the field is what the people in the stands will remember most, but for coaches, what they will remember most of a player could be character, which is why Smith will never forget Camp’s promise.
“I am really proud of the work she has put in, and I look back to that moment where you can for a lot of athletes, where maybe she hit bottom, and she decided to turn something around and she did more than just say ‘I am here to play softball and that is what I am here to do,’” Smith said. “She is crushing it.”
Robert Fallo can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @robert_fallo.