Special needs player’s special moment inspires others

CHAPARRAL, N.M. (KRQE) – It didn’t matter whether Santana Carrillo actually hit the ball. This at-bat wasn’t about that.

Santana is a special needs student at Chaparral High School in Chaparral. She is also an athlete and softball is her sport.

“She has the love of the game we tend to lose,” said Deming High School Varsity Softball Coach, Noel Nunez.

So, when Chaparral’s coach asked Deming’s coach if Santana could take a shot at bat, the Lady Cats couldn’t say ‘no’.

“It was something the girls wanted to do. They were excited to do it,” said Nunez.

Once the game was over, Santana stepped up to the plate. Lobo or Lady Cat, everyone became her biggest fan.

When she bolted to first, tossing her bat aside, they cheered. As she rounded the bases, they answered each stride with praise.

“We just kept on throwing the ball, that way she could advance every base,” explained Nunez.

The crowd went wild as Santana neared the home stretch. It was a home run.

Nunez said it’s an unrivaled high you can’t forget.

“It’s been more than 25 years since I was in high school and I still remember it like it was yesterday,” he said.

Nunez says being a part of Santana’s moment was a reminder. It’s just a game.

“Today’s coaching is mostly about winning and winning at all costs…And our girls didn’t see that, that day,” said Nunez. “I thought it was very humbling.”

Last year, Santana’s coach said every opponent they played gave her time on the field. This is Santana’s third year on the team.