BELEN, N.M. (KRQE) – A special needs athlete got her turn on the field, thanks to the Belen High School softball team.
During their game on April 12th Belen’s softball coaches got a request from the opposing team, to let a special 16-year-old girl get in the game. What happened next shows sometimes compassion trumps competition.
When she hits the diamond, her enthusiasm radiates from the field. Chaparral Junior Santana Carrillo got a turn pitching earlier this week in Belen against the Lady Eagles.
“They let me pitch sometimes and hit and go on road trips with the girls,” said Santana Carrillo.
This is her second year playing softball after coach Donna Heddleston told her she should give it a try.
“I like being on the team, they help me out, take care of me,” Santana said.
Sometimes Santana plays right field. Other times, her coach asks their opponent to let her bat, or take a turn on the mound, after a game is over. When she took the field in Belen recently, the Belen girls said they were eager to play with her.
“We wanted to make it fun for her and we wanted her to score and make it a fun experience for her,” said Belen Softball Player Jayden Gandert.
“When I was little I always dreamed of playing on varsity and I feel like, to let her experience that, was really good for all of us to experience,” said Belen softball player Aislinn Carrillo.
The crowd went wild as Santana rounded the bases and completed an epic slide into home, one of her favorite moves.
“We practice like every day, after school sliding,” Santana said.
“She literally takes it to heart. She really, really enjoys every bit of it because she has fun with the girls, you know. She’s just part of the team, part of their family,” said Santana’s mother Patricia.
This wasn’t the first time Santana got to play. Her coach says every single team they’ve played against this year has given her some time on the field.
Santana played on the JV team her first year and made the varsity team this season.