ASHEBORO – Adjusting to college baseball is a challenge for anyone. Adjusting to a new position at the collegiate level is an even greater challenge. Campbell’s Cam O’Brien is in the midst of changing positions and it’s a change he said he is thoroughly enjoying.

O’Brien grew up as a catcher, but during a summer camp with the Dirtbags organization prior to his senior year in high school, he was asked if he could throw a few innings because of a shortage of arms. O’Brien agreed and that began a pitching journey that he is still on.

O’Brien, a redshirt freshman at Campbell, will get the opportunity to throw this college season before he heads to Asheboro to play for the Copperheads this summer in the Coastal Plain League.

At 6-foot-5 and 215 pounds, O’Brien has good size, but he was rarely used as a pitcher at Heritage High School in Wake Forest, appearing just three times as a senior.

But he loved pitching and he began to get offers, deciding on Campbell, which is located about an hour from his hometown.

“I didn’t pitch a lot in high school, I really don’t know why, but I committed to Campbell the summer before my senior year. They talked to me about development and becoming a better player and a man.”

The move to an everyday pitcher was bolstered by the redshirt year O’Brien took in the 2020 season. Although the campaign was cut short due to the coronavirus, the transition to becoming a full-time pitcher was in place.

“I worked a lot with volunteer assistant coach Connor Faix, who is now at Akron, on pitching mechanics, working on my delivery, being smooth and effective.”

Then the pandemic hit and the Camels’ season was canceled.

“The season being canceled was really tough,” O’Brien said. “Seeing my teammates hurting. During covid, I was doing what I could, going to my backyard and to my school on the field.”

O’Brien got his first taste of pitching collegiately last summer as a member of the Wake Forest Fungo of the Carolina-Virginia Collegiate League.

“It went well and I put up some pretty good numbers,” O’Brien said. “Coming to the park as a pitcher is a whole different mindset. I was used to getting the ball every pitch as a catcher and now I have it as the pitcher. It’s a good feeling to compete for every pitch. I am a competitor.”

The Sports Communication major continued to work on his different pitches. His slider was becoming an out-pitch and his fastball was gaining speed. He said he expects to be in the low 90s this season. He also started working on a number of other off-speed pitches, one that resembled a slurve.

“The big thing for me is I knew I was going to redshirt, so I looked at a bunch of my buddies who were pitchers and they were down having a good time, then they got locked in,” O’Brien said. “There’s a mental switch you have to lock it in when you get your number called.”

O’Brien and the Camels are scheduled to start their season Friday against Liberty. Then he’ll head to Asheboro to continue honing his skills

“I am looking forward to meeting people and getting better as a baseball player and a man,” O’Brien said. “We play some Power 5 games in midweek. You know these guys are the best of the best and I’m looking forward to a great experience.”

The Copperheads are excited to have O’Brien as well

“We expect Cameron to pitch at a high level for us this summer and we are excited about what he has to bring to the table,” said Copperheads head coach and General Manager Keith Ritsche. “Cam has great size and projects well on the mound. He showed last summer the ability to pitch well against wooden bats and he will face some fierce competition this upcoming spring for Campbell. It’s always great to add another in-state kid to our roster when we can.”