Nine honored in annual student-athlete commencement ceremony

While Campbell’s nationally ranked baseball program was winning another Big South series over the weekend, softball was capping off a 41-win season with a third-straight conference tournament title. 

In other words, graduation would have to wait. 

Three members of the baseball team, four players and a graduate assistant from softball and one member of Campbell’s track and cross country programs were honored on Monday in the University’s student-athlete commencement ceremony, an annual event for those who have to trade in graduation caps for ball caps on the second weekend of May. 

The short ceremony was held in Hobson Performance Arts Center the day after softball’s big win over Longwood in the Big South Finals. The Camels will head to Durham this weekend for the NCAA Regionals against Duke, UNC Charlotte and George Mason. 

In his address to the nine graduates, President J. Bradley Creed compared his speech to the “bottom of the ninth” of a ballgame. 

“We recognize your faces, we come and watch your games, and we see you on campus,” he said. “Remember when you leave this place here in the sandhills of North Carolina, there are people who will remember your name and your face and be glad that you were here. You have made a difference here. I often say graduates are the soul of our university. We’re a better university because of you, because you’ve helped us accomplish our mission of graduating students with meaningful lives and a purpose.”

Graduates on Monday (in alphabetical order) included:

  • Jarrod Belbin, South Morang, Australia (baseball): Belbin is a force in the Campbell lineup and at second base, hitting .325 this season with 15 home runs and 54 RBI for the 14th-ranked Camels. He was a first-team All Big South player as a junior in 2022. He’s considered a prospect for the Major League Baseball draft, and the sports management major’s long-term plans include moving back to Australia and starting his own business.
  • Samantha Fontaine, Granada Hills, California (softball): Fontaine has played two seasons for Campbell softball after transferring as a junior. The criminal justice major hopes to pursue a career in law and work at the L.A. District Attorney’s Office this summer before applying to law school in the fall.
  • Kayla Howald, Bradenton, Florida (softball): Howard has 12 wins on the mound for Campbell this season with an impressive 3.05 ERA. The sports management major hopes tot enroll in Campbell’s MBA program next academic year.  The redshirt junior has another year of eligibility in softball.
  • Lindsey Hunt, Glen Mills, Pennsylvania (softball): Hunt started 29 games this season for the Camels, hitting .299 with a home run and 19 RBI. The redshirt junior hopes to return home to Pennsylvania after college and pursue a master’s degree, ultimately becoming a doctor in the U.S. military.
  • Jake Murray, Wendell, N.C. (baseball): Murray has appeared in seven games as pitcher for the Camels this season with a perfect 4-0 record and a 3.48 ERA. The criminal justice, homeland security major will pursue a master’s degree while returning for his redshirt senior year in baseball next season.
  • Cameron O’Brien, Wake Forest, N.C. (baseball): O’Brien is 3-1 in eight starts as a pitcher this season. The communication studies and sports communication graduate will return to Buies Creek next season as a redshirt senior and plans to pursue his master’s degree.
  • Isabella Rowland, Montgomery, Alabama (track, cross country): A pharmaceutical sciences major, Rowland plans to attend grad school in medicinal chemistry and pharmaceutical nanotechnology. This past weekend, she competed in the 800-meter run in the Big South Conference meet in Rock Hill, S.C.
  • Callan Taylor, Navarre, Florida (softball): Taylor earned her undergraduate degree in 2020 Fromm the University of West Florida and graduated with a Master of Education degree from Campbell on Monday. She was a graduate assistant for the softball team the past two seasons. She hopes to pursue a career as a college coach.
  • Claudia Ware, Leonard, Texas (softball): A day before graduating, Ware was named MVP of the Big South Tournament. She led the Camels this season with a .375 batting average, 83 total bases and 20 doubles. After college, she hopes to move back to Texas to pursue a career in accounting.