WOU in the news: Ex-Roseburg softball players Jackson, Hamlin now head coaches in same league

Picture of Kendra Hamlin

I remember Brandi Jackson as a fiery competitor on the diamond during the glory days of Roseburg High School softball.

A coach’s daughter, so what else would you expect?

Kendra Hamlin was a teammate of Jackson’s at RHS. A fine player in her own right and an excellent centerfielder on an outstanding Indians club that fell two runs short of the state championship.

After good college softball careers — Jackson at Portland State University and Hamlin at Western Oregon University — the two are head coaches at high schools in the Class 5A Mid-Willamette Conference.

The 28-year-old Jackson, formerly Brandi Campos and the daughter of ex-Roseburg head coach Tony Campos, is in her second season at Dallas. She’s a 2007 graduate of RHS.

Hamlin, 26, is the skipper at Central of Independence. The former Kendra George, who graduated from RHS in 2008, has been in charge of that program for four years.

Jackson, a behavior specialist at Dallas High during the school day, has a softball team that looks capable of contending for the state title. The Dragons are unbeaten in 14 Mid-Willamette games and 16-4 overall heading into a league game at home today against Silverton.

Dallas, which has just two seniors on its roster, sits No. 2 in the OSAA 5A power rankings. Marist (18-1 overall) is No. 1.

“It has been great. I always pictured myself coaching, I got some pretty good experience as a graduate assistant at Portland State,” Jackson said. “Coming back to high school was challenging as far as expectations. I hold the kids to a high standard, but being in my second year they’re buying in more.

“It seems to be working out and I love it. I have a very good group of kids. I’m just lucky … it’s not just softball, they get the job done in the classroom and are great kids to be around. I’m super competitive, but they have great heart and drive and want it as bad as I do.”

The Dragons lost three of their first four games, but have gone 15-1 since. They’ve outscored the opposition, 208-69, through 20 games.

“I thought we had potential coming into the season (after losing to Churchill in the quarterfinals last year),” Jackson said. “We had a couple of setbacks early with injuries to key players, but we’re healthy now.

“Our hitting this year has improved tremendously. We’re hitting in the mid-.400s and have a .507 on base percentage in league. We do a great job defensively and that takes pressure off the pitchers. I’m superstitious and don’t like making predictions, but this team has the potential to go deep in the playoffs.”

Jackson was a first-team all-state second baseman and a potent left-handed hitter for her father at Roseburg. He stepped down as the Indians’ head coach last year due to a taxing work schedule after 14 seasons, 252 wins and two state runner-up finishes. Tony Campos, who still coaches the Northwest Bullets summer team, is a volunteer coach for Dallas.

“He gets here when he can,” Jackson said. “My intensity, passion and love for the game came from him, and I hope I can give that to some of my kids.”

Brandi is married to Josh Jackson, a 2007 Dallas graduate. They have an 8-month-year-old son, Cooper.

Hamlin, meanwhile, doesn’t have as talented of a team at Central but the Panthers (13-7, 9-5 Mid-Willamette) are in third in conference and will advance to postseason play.

Central, No. 13 in the power rankings, has three seniors.

“Yes, winning is always fun. But my goal for our team is to always come out and play a solid seven innings and have fun while they’re doing it,” Hamlin said. “When you do that, the wins take care of themselves. We try and take it one game at a time as every game is an opportunity to become stronger, smarter players.”

The Panthers, who were 11-13 overall a year ago after making the first round of the playoffs in 2015, are an improved edition this season.

“Life is good. I’m having a blast,” Hamlin said. “I love building relationships with the girls and seeing them be successful. Fifteen of our 28 girls made the All-Academic team. It’s about helping maintain a balance and I’m proud of that.”

Hamlin says she’s not a “yeller or screamer” as a coach. She mentioned George Decker, a long-time assistant for Tony Campos at RHS, as her biggest coaching influence.

“George invested so much time outside of his typical schedule to work with me while I was in high school and college,” she said. “He not only cared about me as a player, but as a person as well. It taught me a lot about building positive relationships and trust with my players, and that’s something I try to do at Central.”

Hamlin teaches health and physical education at Central. She’s married to Robert Hamlin, a 2009 grad of Sprague of Salem.

“We have an awesome staff at Central,” Hamlin said.

Jackson and Hamlin enjoy seeing and coaching against each other. Jackson has won all five meetings between their teams, including 2-1 and 13-0 victories this season. Dallas will visit Central on Tuesday.

“It’s pretty cool (coaching in the same league),” Jackson said. “It’s nice to have a fun, competitive environment. We’ve been able to talk with each other and shake hands, regardless of how the games go. We’re both competitive people, but at the end of the day we both support each other.”

“Brandi’s team is having a great season,” Hamlin said. “Our first game against them was a tight game, but we ended up losing and had several errors which cost us the game. The second game their pitcher threw a great game and we didn’t play well. They earned it.”

Published by: The News-Review
By: Tom Eggers