Lantern file photo
Ohio State trailed arch-rival Michigan, 4-0, Saturday when Evelyn Carrillo stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded in the bottom of the first inning. The sophomore first baseman had one thought as she stared down Wolverine freshman pitcher Haylie Wagner.
“The mentality I have is something up, I bang,” Carrillo said. She did just that. Wagner left a change-up in the zone and Carrillo lifted it over the wall in right field for a grand slam to tie the game, 4-4.
Changing the game with one swing of the bat is nothing new for Carrillo. The Corona, Calif., native is batting .364 this season with five home runs and 33 RBIs to help the Buckeyes to a 23-14 record on the year.
She attributes her productivity to the mental approach she brings to the plate.
“As a hitter you gotta make sure you stay confident,” Carrillo said. “And just have that mindset where if I see my pitch I’m just gonna hit it.”
Carrillo was named Big Ten Player of the Week after the Buckeyes’ three-game series at Michigan State during the last weekend in March. She helped OSU sweep the Spartans by going 11-for-12 at the plate with eight RBIs, including a career-high six RBIs in the first game of the series. It was the first career conference honor of Carrillo’s career.
OSU coach Linda Kalafatis isn’t surprised by her first baseman’s success at the plate this year and said she doesn’t expect it to stop anytime soon.
“Evelyn, I think, has got the prettiest swing on the team,” Kalafatis said. “I expect big things from her for the rest of her career.”
Perhaps the biggest benefactor of Carrillo’s success this season has been shortstop Alicia Herron. The senior captain is having the best statistical season of her career in her final year as a Buckeye and said hitting behind her fellow infielder has been a huge help.
“It helps because it gives me another chance to hit,” Herron said. “They have to pitch to me or else they’ll have to pitch to her . She gives me a better shot at letting me to hit.
For OSU to be successful going forward, some of Carillo’s teammates said they know their best players have to perform when the game is on the line, something Carrillo proved Saturday.
“Evelyn came in clutch and had the grand slam,” said senior pitcher Mikayla Endicott. “That changed the momentum.”