Camels pair wins Midway College/KHSAA Student-Athlete of the Year awards

G. Michael Graham
G. Michael Graham
Mike Graham covers sports for LINK nky

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Campbell County head baseball coach Scott Schweitzer said he has submitted players for the annual Midway College/Kentucky High School Athletic Association Student-Athlete of the Year awards for years.

But it was not until this year when he finally heard back about it. Campbell County not only won it this year with senior Aydan Hamilton for baseball, but twice with senior Paige Stewart for softball. The award is based on academics, community service and athletic ability.

Both led their teams to 37th District championships this year. The Camels softball team (20-6) has won it six years in a row and the baseball team (29-10) has won it the past two years.

“I just thought it was another reward. But people are making a big deal of it,” Hamilton said. “The more I heard about it, the more it felt special to get it. Out of all the baseball athletes in the state of Kentucky, to get it means a lot to me.”

Hamilton is currently playing in the Prospect League for the Jackson (Tennessee) Rockabillys with 2022 Ryle graduate Josh Furtado, who just completed his first season at NCAA Division III Transylvania University in Lexington. The league is comprised of college baseball players using wooden bats.

Hamilton said it’s helping him prepare for the SEC pitching as he’ll head to the University of Kentucky in the fall on a baseball scholarship.

Hamilton finished his boys basketball career for the Camels as the program’s all-time leading scorer with 2,216 points. Campbell County has won 10 straight district championships after finishing 22-12 last year. Hamilton dressed for the 2019 region championship team and helped the Camels to the region semifinals all four years in high school and a region runner-up finish as a sophomore in 2021.

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“Aydan was a special athlete. He did it very quietly. He worked hard. I can’t say enough about him,” Schweitzer said. “It would be easy for him to have a big head and think that he was better than everybody. But that was never the case. He was a good teammate. He’s everything that a Midway Athlete of the Year is.”

Hamilton finished his baseball career batting .415 (114 for 275) to go with 107 runs scored, 93 runs batted in, 11 home runs, 23 doubles and one triple. He dazzled on the base paths stealing an impressive 69 bases on 72 attempts.

The Camels baseball team made it to the 10th Region championship his three years of high school, winning it his sophomore and junior year. Campbell County knocked off Johnson Central in the first round of the state tournament in 2022 for the program’s first state tournament win since finishing runner-up in 2016.

“The thing I really look back at is how much fun I had,” Hamilton said. “You only experience high school one time in your life so you just kind of have to make the most out of it whether that be the bus rides or on the court, field or in practice. You just try to have fun. These are your lifelong friends.”

Hamilton also did well in the classroom earning a 4.0 grade-point average as a senior. Schweitzer said he also did a good job finding time to get some baseball reps in during basketball season.

“I just basically did it in the classroom first and then on the field next,” Hamilton said. “That’s why it’s called a student-athlete and not a an athlete-student.”

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But Hamilton and his sister Hope, who just finished her freshman year playing volleyball and softball for the Camels, are both known for being humble. Hamilton cited an early-season game against Cooper his senior year playing basketball when he scored just nine points in a 56-52 home loss to the Jaguars. But a week later, Hamilton scored 24 points to help the Camels beat Newport Central Catholic, 88-61 in the John Turner Classic at Newport.

“We try to go with the flow,” Hamilton said. “If we’re not having a good day, we’re going to support our teammates and hopefully, they can pick up the team. You can’t just stay on one play even if it’s good.”

Campbell County senior pitcher Paige Stewart (right) sets up to deliver in a game this year. Stewart won the Midway University/KHSAA Student-Athlete of the Year softball honor. She finished 31-10 with 149 strikeouts the past three seasons for the Camels. G. Michael Graham | LINK nky contributor

Stewart expressed gratitude for winning the award. She’s been a major contributor for the Camels softball team these past three years finishing with a .469 batting average (119 for 254) with 51 runs scored, 79 runs batted in, 28 doubles, six triples and five home runs. Stewart played second or third base when not pitching.

“She’s just a great kid all the way around,” said Sandi Kitchen, Campbell County softball head coach. “You couldn’t ask for a better student-athlete. She’s certainly up there with some of the best that we’ve ever been around coaching. She’s a good role model for these girls.”

Stewart finished her pitching career with a 31-10 record, recording 149 strikeouts these past three years. She recorded her career-lowest 4.56 earned-run average this past year.

Stewart started both games for Campbell County in the region tournament. The Camels held off George Rogers Clark, 4-3 in the 10th Region quarterfinals at Bourbon County for the first region tournament win since 2019.

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“We were excited. Our goal was to win the region. Obviously, that didn’t happen,” Stewart said. “But we were glad that we finally had done something more than just get to the region and we were glad that the hard work in practice and team bondings finally paid off.”

Stewart is taking her talents to nearby Thomas More University. She wants to improve her mental game before playing college softball.

“I’m not going to be perfect every game,” Stewart said. “I’m going to be playing with good people so I’m not going to be the best one on the field.”

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