Carlson said he is completely infatuated with hitting and he often finds himself picturing his duels with pitchers.
"I visualize as much as I can," Carlson said. "I just think about hitting. I think about seeing [the ball] out of the pitcher's hand, then putting a good swing on it. I try to visualize hitting the ball as hard as I can. Good things happen when you hit it hard."
Carlson said he often finds his attention in class drifting toward the diamond, particularly on game days.
"I zone out in class, sometimes," he said. "I count the minutes until class gets out. We're leaving Thursday for Bakersfield and I'm like, 'See you teacher, sorry.'"
When he gets to the ballpark, Carlson approaches hitting as if it were a science.
"I break it down," he said. "At UC Irvine, we all kept a little book on pitchers and that kind of caught on with me. I keep in mind what pitchers do against me. I look at first-pitch strikes and I look at what they like to throw me with two strikes."
But Carlson said he tries not to let even the most thorough analysis get in the way of his instincts.
"Thinking is for practice," he said. "When you're playing in a game, you just try to hit the ball."
Carlson said only an A-plus in Bakersfield, meaning the state championship, will be acceptable.
"We've worked hard to get where we are," Carlson said. "If we just keep playing like OCC, there's no one who is going to beat us."
STATE FINAL FOUR
Teams: Orange Coast (36-5-1); Consumnes River (25-16); Rio Hondo (38-3), Sierra (25-15-1).
Where: Bakersfield College
Info: OCC takes on Sierra Friday at noon. Webcast viewing information can be found at www.cccaasports.org.