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Chris Carlson a major force for OCC baseball team

Community College Baseball

Orange Empire Conference Player of the Year has helped propel Pirates to State Final Four.

May 16, 2012|By Barry Faulkner

"Getting back in the lineup was a big boost for my mentality," said Carlson, who has committed to play next season at New Mexico State. "That's what I like to do. I like to hit. And, it was nice being able to contribute to my team."

In two seasons, Carlson, twice a first-team all-conference honoree, has hit a combined .386 with 119 hits, 24 doubles, 10 homers, five triples, 83 RBIs, 87 runs and 15 stolen bases. He has helped the Pirates amass 68 wins during his tenure, which he hopes will end with the program's third state title, its second in four years.

OCC begins its quest for the crown Friday at noon against Sierra (25-15-1), the No. 11 seed in the Northern California playoffs.

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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."

barry.faulkner@latimes.com

Twitter: @BarryFaulkner5

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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.

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