baseball Edit

Camden Sewell explains difficult decision to return for one more season

Photo Credit: Tennessee Athletics
Photo Credit: Tennessee Athletics

Camden Sewell was content.

The Cleveland, Tennessee native was content from stepping away from baseball and moving on to the next chapter of his life.

As the end of Tennessee baseball's spectacular 2022 season was coming to an end, Sewell sensed that he didn't have the same feelings about the game.

"I noticed I would care more about other people’s success and enjoy seeing them succeed more than I would myself," Sewell told Volquest. "That was the turning point of when I would sit down and think about a lot of things.”

It wasn't just Tennessee that the right-handed pitcher was stepping away from following an outstanding four seasons in which he played an immense role in helping turn the program around.

Sewell wanted to step away from baseball completely.

Several professional teams called as the 2022 MLB Draft took place in late July. Yet Sewell told his advisors prior to the draft that he had no interest in pursuing a professional career.

"Some teams reached out the first day of the draft and were even still reaching out the last day," Sewell said. "Looking back, I probably should have said no out of respect, but everything was still fresh in the moment. It was one of those things to where I could see it and I didn’t want to, so I would just swipe off the message instead of look at it because I was set in what I didn’t want to do, and that was be drafted.”

Sewell accepted a full-time job with Knoxville's American Accessories International in the process of stepping away from baseball. The opportunity that he was presented with was simply too good to turn down.

He had an opportunity to develop as a business professional and he leapt at the chance to expand his knowledge in a new direction. Sewell trained in all aspects of marketing, development, and administration within AAI.

But that's when the what-if started creeping into Sewell's mind. What if he could pursue a tremendous professional opportunity while also taking advantage of his free year of COVID eligibility in order to play one more season with the Vols? All while keeping the door to the 2023 MLB Draft open.

“It was tough for a few weeks because I had no idea what I wanted to do and I had three different choices, but I couldn’t decide," Sewell said. "Then all of a sudden, it was okay, this is what I’m going to do, and then I got into the job, I really enjoyed it. It led to me trying to think of a way to where I could play one more year — if that was a possibility and everything could work out.

"Now that’s where we are. If it was going to happen, awesome. If not, awesome, too. Now I’m just at the point of appreciating the fact that I get to play one more year.”

It may have taken some time for it to sink in, but Sewell's reasoning behind trying to play one more season was simple. He didn't want to look back later in life and regret not taking advantage of the year of eligibility he has remaining.

“"It came down to what I would regret the most," Sewell explained. "It came down to the fact that I have one more year to play, and if I still love to play, why not play? I feel like if I would have looked back, even if I don’t play professional baseball after this year, I would regret it because I had one more year and didn’t use it. That’s what I don’t want to do, regret not using my extra year."

Sewell's return is an important one for the Vols after they saw Blade Tidwell, Ben Joyce, Will Mabrey, and Mark McLaughlin all get drafted and sign with their respective organizations.

Sewell isn't just an arm for the Vols to store away for depth purposes, however. It's a really good one with a lot of experience.

“I still feel just as confident in my ability today as I did three or four years ago, or even last year," Sewell said. "That also is in my head, just still being very confident in myself. The belief in myself has never left, so I’m just looking forward to being out there again.”

Sewell went 7-1 last season with a 2.52 ERA in 50.0 innings of work. He struck out 42 hitters and walked just eight, as opponents hit .221 off of him.

Tennessee's Swiss Army knife returns with 149.1 innings under his belt, a 15-3 career record and a 2.53 ERA over four seasons. Yet Sewell's biggest value in returning will be his leadership for a program that just saw 12 players move on to professional baseball.

“Any year you don’t win it all, you have something to prove the next year," Sewell said. "Even if you do win it, there’s still something to prove the next year. Two years ago, we got the taste of going to the World Series in our mouth, and then last year, it was like nothing could go wrong, so I think the big thing this year is not trying to duplicate last year. If we try to do that, we’re going to get frustrated and everything else will go south, but if you attack everything one step at a time rather than duplicating the same numbers because whether we believe it or not, those numbers are pretty hard to duplicate. You can’t set a standard of duplicating those. You can just set a standard of getting better and improving."

Sewell may have lost his itch to pitch for a short period of time. But that itch has come back strong as ever.

“I’m excited now that I start thinking about it and I didn’t have that feeling when the season ended," Sewell said. "But now that I have that feeling of being able to play again, anytime I talk about it, or see anything about Tennessee baseball, I get goosebumps and chills, so I know I still have it in me.”