Freshman phenom Cambrie Hazel, a general studies major from Spanish Fork, continues to make an impact on the mound in her first season pitching for Dixie State University softball.
DSU currently sits sixth on the NCAA Division II softball rankings with a win-loss record of 32-4 with Hazel leading the team in wins (15), complete games (9), innings pitched (103.2), saves (4) and strikeouts (109).
Hazel has a earned run average of 1.28 placing her third out of qualifying pitchers in the Pacific West Conference. Hazel leads the PacWest in opposing batting average (.120), fourth in the conference for strikeouts and second in wins.
She has had early success at DSU after a high school career filled with accolades including a 24-1 record as a senior, winning three straight state championships at Spanish Fork High School and being named Utah’s 2017 Softball Gatorade Player of the Year in 2017.
“The competition is a lot better [in college],” Hazel said. “There’s better and stronger hitters along with better pitching. I just try to work my hardest and see how it goes.”
Hazel said her favorite pitch to throw is her curveball. Her arsenal of pitches includes that curveball along with a fastball, rise ball, and she is currently developing a change-up.
“She uses what she has been given,” head coach Randy Simkins said. “She has long [arms], big hands, long fingers… she spins the ball well and has good velocity.”
Pitching with a greater velocity in softball can be explained biomechanically. The velocity of the ball when thrown toward home plate is determined by the amount of angular velocity the pitcher can make when swinging her arm multiplied by the distance from the axis of rotation, in this case the pitcher’s shoulder.
Therefore, long arms for a pitcher in softball is advantageous, increasing the distance from the shoulder, coupled with faster rotation of the pitching arm leads to increased velocity of the ball toward the plate. Longer fingers allow for more contact with the ball as it is leaving the pitcher’s hand giving it more spin, leading to more curve on breaking pitches.
“She makes it hard to make hard contact with [the ball],” said catcher Jessica Gonzalez, a junior business administration major from Kingsburg, California. “Her demeanor on the mound is [unfazed]; you would never know whether she was having a bad day or a good day.”
Hazel has been awarded Pitcher of the Week for the PacWest Conference four times so far this season. She has also been named the Louisville Slugger National Fastpitch Coaches Association National Pitcher of the Week for the week of April 1-8.
During that week Hazel pitched 20.2 innings during DSU softball’s road trip in California. During those 20.2 innings she did not allow a single hit, throwing two no-hitters and four innings of a combined perfect game. She finished the week with 25 strikeouts.
DSU split two doubleheaders against California Baptist University on April 13-14 with Hazel getting the win in the first game on 13, pitching 5.1 innings, giving up four hits in the 4-3 victory. DSU went on to lose the second game 3-7.
The next day, Hazel pitched 6.2 innings, striking out five and giving up four hits in a 9-8 DSU victory in nine innings. DSU went on to lose the final game of the series to CBU 9-0. After the series with CBU, DSU sits at second in the PacWest standings, two games behind CBU.
Hazel will be helping DSU softball on the mound as the team makes the final push of the season in its last five games before the NCAA tournament. The next game for DSU softball will include making a road trip to California to face Biola University in a doubleheader on Friday April 20 along with a doubleheader against Concordia University Irvine on April 21.