Then Alabama coach Mitch Gaspard came calling and everything changed.
Now Walker’s ace lefty is set to call Tuscaloosa home. He signed with the Crimson Tide on Monday.
Kamplain is the area’s first SEC baseball signee since Sumiton Christian’s Ricky Bowen signed with Mississippi State in 2005.
“Playing for Alabama has been my lifelong dream,” said the 6-foot, 165-pound Kamplain, who graduated last week.
Kamplain didn’t have to think long about making the move the switch from Shelton to Alabama. Shelton State coach Bobby Sprowl supported Kamplain’s decision to play in the SEC.
“He understood (playing at Alabama) was my goal. Coach Sprowl has been really good about the situation,” Kamplain said.
At Walker, Kamplain began setting school records as a freshman. In his first area game, Kamplain threw a no-hitter against Mortimer Jordan.
That was just the beginning.
He finished his career with a 30-7 mark along with five saves and an ERA under 2.00.
This season alone, Kamplain finished 7-2 with a pair of perfect games, one save and an ERA of 1.38. In 66 innings, he struck out a staggering 115 batters while allowing just 28 hits.
“Everybody’s always known Justin could pitch,” Walker coach Patrick Ware said.
“The biggest question everybody had going into his senior year was would his velocity be where it needed to be to pitch at the highest (collegiate) level?”
It became clear early on that his velocity has increased.
“Last year he threw between 83 and 87 (miles per hour). This year it went up to 88 to 92,” Ware said.
Kamplain turned heads in one of his first starts of the season.
Against Northwest Rankin, Miss., the No. 2 team in the largest classification, Kamplain struck out a career high 17 batters in a seven-inning victory.
He kept it going through the season, striking out 13 batters in perfect games against area foes Hayden and Curry. In three area games, Kamplain allowed just two hits.
“He’s been one of the top pitchers to come through this area in the last 25 to 30 years,” Ware said. “He just knows how to pitch. His breaking ball is a major league pitch and it has been ever since he was a freshman. That’s something you can’t duplicate or teach. When he’s on the mound and he gets one or two runs, the game is basically over.”
Alabama coaches watched Kamplain pitch against Boaz in the second round of playoffs. Kamplain, who also has a good chance of getting drafted in the first few rounds of the MLB draft next week, visited Alabama during its series with LSU in early May.
“Things just kind of sprung up. Things were dead then all of a sudden things started happening,” Kamplain said. “I’m a die-hard Alabama fan. Going to Alabama means a lot. I’ll be the first one out of my family to play college baseball.”
Ware feels Kamplain will make immediate contributions for the Tide.
“I feel if he goes in and does what he’s done here, he has a chance to pitch at Alabama as a freshman,” Ware added.
“He’s always wanted to go to Alabama. That’s been a dream of his growing up. I’m really proud of him for what he’s accomplished.”