Junior college baseball transfer Josh Cameron finds success in first year of eligibility at SEMO
They say patience is a virtue.
Junior outfielder Josh Cameron learned that the hard way while sitting out last season after transferring from Butler County Community College.
But the patience and discipline he learned while sitting out is now translating to success on the diamond.
In his first season at Southeast Missouri State University, Cameron leads the team in slugging percentage (.515), hits (28), triples (2), total bases (51), total plate appearances (118), at-bats (99) and games played (26-26).
He’s also top five on the team in batting average (.283), on-base percentage (.383), runs scored (17), RBIs (19), doubles (4), home runs (4), walks (10) and stolen bases (8).
Because of his early season success, Cameron was named the Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) Player of the Week on Feb. 27, after a particularly rewarding week against both Middle Tennessee and Abilene Christian.
“Josh is a really fiery, emotional guy,” said coach Andy Sawyers, who is going into his seventh season at Southeast Missouri State University. “He’s a unique combination. He can really run. He’s fast, but he also has power, so he can do a little bit of everything. He brings lots of energy, plays hard, runs well and gets after it, but also has big time ‘juice.’”
To get to where he is now, Cameron had to face adversity.
Just two weeks before the 2022 season started, Cameron was informed he didn’t have enough hours to be eligible to play due to some credits that did not transfer.
“I had gone all fall and all winter, excited to play, expecting to play… and then, they hit me with that,” Cameron said. “It was a shock to the system, but I was forced to adapt and survive.”
Sawyers said he couldn’t have asked for Cameron to handle the unfortunate situation any better.
“It’s huge. I mean, look at how good our group was last year — we set the school record for home runs and had a great year offensively,” Sawyers said. “Josh was supposed to hit in the three-hole a year ago. That was the plan all along. And then for him to have to sit and watch and not get to take part in a really fun year was really hard on him.”
Cameron attributes his success so far this season to a good support system from the coaching staff and his teammates.
“They stuck with me through the hard times that I had last year, which made it easy to just come out here and play loose and have fun this season,” Cameron said.
His teammates noted his work ethic and drive and how that relates to the season he’s had so far.
“Josh is a huge competitor and he works his tail off,” said Peyton Leeper, Cameron’s fellow junior teammate. “He’s one of those guys that is always one of the first few to show up and the last one to leave.”
Cameron noted the transition from the junior college (JUCO) level to the Division I level in the OVC is a whole different ball game. He said the biggest difference he’s been forced to adjust to is the speed of play.
“The game speeds up a bit. You have to figure out how to slow it down,” Cameron said. “It’s easy to get to a point at JUCO where you have the game slowed down to a tee. Then, you get to Division I ball. It’s faster. Whether that’s velocity or gameplay with the new pitch clock and such, the game can easily speed up on you if you let it.”
The SEMO baseball team has proven to be very successful the past couple of years with winning records and OVC championships.
Sawyers was quick to point out that said success is simply because of the great players they have had over the years. In that context, he specifically mentioned SEMO baseball alum Dylan Dodd, who is making his big league debut for the Atlanta Braves on April 4 against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Cameron said SEMO baseball is special because of the brotherhood and family atmosphere.
“In all reality, on the field, off the field, anywhere we are, we all have a connection that’s unbeatable,” Cameron said. “It’s like having 40 brothers. It’s pretty easy to have success when they’ve got your back through failure and success.”
The Redhawks were picked to win the 2023 OVC baseball title in February preseason polls. Beginning the season, however, they had lost eight of the first twelve games. These past couple of weeks, however, because of the collective team effort, Cameron noted that the pieces have been falling together.
“We aren’t really focused on what happened early,” Cameron said. “I mean, of course, we are going to use it as fuel to our fire. But at the end of the day, it’s not about who plays the best in February, it’s about who plays the best at the end of the year. We just have to take each game and learn how to build off of it. I think by the end of the year, we’ll be right where we want to be.”
The Redhawks are sitting with a 12-14 record as of March 28 and have a home series versus Little Rock beginning Friday, March 31.