Brock Netter, Staff Writer
UNIOTO — Anytime she’s on the base paths or the soccer ball is at her feet, expect Jayla Campbell to score.
It’s not who she is, but it’s what she’s done ever so masterfully over her four-year career at Unioto. Her performance on the soccer field earned her a scholarship to the University of Findlay, and the Oilers can’t wait for her to get to campus.
But before she moves on, she has a softball career to finish as the Tanks currently sit at 16-4 on the season, good enough for second place in the Scioto Valley Conference.
We had the chance to catch up with the senior standout to talk about her soccer career, her best memories, Unioto’s youth and more.
Question: You set high expectations, and understandably so for your senior year on the soccer pitch. Knowing what Unioto had returning, how much pressure did that create for you?
Campbell: I knew coming into the year that I was going to have pressure like always. I was getting close to the Ross County record for career goals, and I had great seasons before then so I knew I was the opposing team’s target to watch. I didn’t think about it too much. I just wanted to go out and play my game. If I didn’t score, then I didn’t score. But as long as we won, that was all the mattered to me.
Q: You eventually broke the record before topping out with 105 goals. What was the feeling like once you broke it?
JC: There were multiple games I went scoring just one goal or not scoring at all. It was a little frustrating since I knew how close I was. But once I got it, it was like a massive weight was just lifted off my shoulders. To accomplish something I worked so hard for throughout my career was a great feeling and everything just flowed from that point on.
Q: You girls were on a mission to get back where you were and play Big Walnut again in the regional semifinals, which you all did. Although the end result didn’t turn out how you had hoped, what was that final tournament run like?
JC: We were kind of young, but we had experienced players who had been through the battles and knew what to expect. Our back line was young so we had to keep pushing and reminding them that every game wasn’t a given, and they were great. My sophomore year we lost to Circleville, which shouldn’t have happened, but it did. We didn’t play our best against Big Walnut both times, but they’re a really good team.
Q: Moving to softball, you’re back after sitting out last year. Why was it so important for you to come back for your last season?
JC: I love the sport and that’s one of the reasons I wanted to come back and finish out. But above that, I love the girls on the team. I love to play and had to come back to help the team and contribute in any way I could for the final time. I’m a very competitive person and I’ll do whatever it takes.
Q: Much like with the soccer team, there’s a nice balance of youth and experience. How have you seen some of the younger players grow and improve game after game?
JC: The thing with some of the young players is that while they’re performing, they’re also watching the upperclassmen and picking up on things. Avery Miller has stepped up huge with her bat and the Paul sisters — Kylie and Jerzi — have stepped up in a number of games with some big outs and at-bats. Even if they have a bad game, they all keep working to get it for the team. It allows us upperclassmen to be a little more relaxed during games, knowing that the younger players have stepped up in many different ways. The pressure isn’t all on just the juniors and seniors to produce since we’re the leaders of the team.
Q: Every athlete has a routine they go through no matter what it is. Are you superstitious or meticulous about anything on game day?
JC: Before every soccer game, I had to have a sweet tea. No matter what I ate or drank beforehand, I always had a sweet tea. There were also certain songs I had to listen before a game. For softball, I put on my brace then my right shoe followed by my left. If I mess it up and go out of order, then I’ll start all over again. It really bothers me if I mess up. I have a bat routine I have to do in the on-deck circle as well.
Q: Although your high school career isn’t finished just yet, what have been some of your best memories throughout the four years?
JC: For soccer, setting the Ross County record and breaking 100 goals was amazing. But the two district championships were phenomenal. That probably sits atop the list. For softball, winning the SVC championship my sophomore year was great. Hopefully, there’s more to come.
Q: What is the ideal way that this softball season ends for you?
JC: Making a tournament run and getting to Ohio University. I’ve never made it and this is the last chance. So that’s the goal.