Bear in mind the identify: Olivia Pichardo.
On Friday night time, the Brown College freshman grew to become the primary feminine in NCAA historical past to seem in a Division I baseball recreation.
Her groundout traveled nearly 95 ft.
Years from now, it could look like 95 miles.
Right here’s why: Who is aware of how a lot ladies baseball gamers will progress sooner or later? Possibly Pichardo’s groundout to Bryant first baseman Carmine Petosa — who made the play unassisted — is just the start of a brand new supply of expertise. Possibly her at-bat might be recognized, traditionally, as probably the most vital curler to first since Mookie Wilson to Invoice Buckner. We simply don’t know.
What we do know is that Pichardo is a legit baseball participant, and maybe her finest software is her arm.
“She throws low 80s off the mound,” Brown coach Grant Achilles stated. “Her arm power has continued to enhance, and it’s higher than I had anticipated. We’ve had her play proper discipline (in follow and scrimmages).”
Brown heart fielder Derian Morphew has additionally been impressed by Pichardo.
However when he and his teammates first discovered she had made the group as a walk-on this previous fall, they have been curious.
“We simply needed to see her play,” Morphew stated. “We needed to see what she had. We knew that if she made the walk-on tryout, our coaches will need to have seen one thing about her that would assist us.
“Earlier than she made the group, we solely had 5 outfielders. I didn’t have a throwing associate. When she received right here, it was an ideal solution to have a throwing associate. So, the very first thing I noticed her do is throw, and that’s what impressed me probably the most — how effectively and precisely she throws the ball.
“Her arm is legit.”
On the plate, Pichardo – who swings from the left facet – is a 5-foot-7, 160-pound contact hitter.
She has gained 5 kilos of muscle since arriving at Brown this previous fall, and she or he feels that added power will assist her drive the ball within the years to come back.
“I’m not the participant who’s going yard each recreation,” stated Pichardo, 19. “I’m somebody who finds the gaps.
“This can be a recreation of passing the torch. I attempt to do my job and arrange our subsequent batter for achievement.”
A local of Queens, New York, Pichardo has been athletic just about her complete life. She remembers her toddler days, hitting a Wiffle ball with what she calls a “squishy bat.”
Pichardo comes from an athletic household. Her father, Max, who’s from the Dominican Republic, grew up enjoying baseball, in fact. Her mom, Monita, performed highschool basketball.
As well as, Olivia’s sister, Nirvana, performs highschool volleyball. However Olivia inherited her father’s ardour for baseball.
Stated Max: “Once I was slightly child, I didn’t have a lot, however I used to be obsessive about baseball. I’d moderately play baseball than eat.”
After the Pichardos had their two daughters, Max stated he was in for a shock.
“I didn’t envision I’d be a baseball dad,” he stated. “However it labored out that approach, and I couldn’t be happier.”
Olivia Pichardo performed highschool basketball and volleyball at Backyard College in Queens. She additionally performed membership baseball for New York Crush and Subsequent Stage.
This previous summer season, she competed for USA Baseball’s Girls’s Nationwide Crew. She additionally competed at a number of faculty baseball camps, though not at Brown.
After getting accepted academically by Brown, she emailed Achilles, sending him her baseball spotlight movies.
Pichardo and a male participant have been the 2 gamers competing to make the group on walk-on tryout day this previous fall.
Solely Pichardo made the group.
“She had a terrific try-out,” Achilles stated. “She had confidence in her fashion as a contact participant who can put the ball in play. She runs laborious and is a strong defender.”
This previous 12 months, Pichardo and the remainder of the Brown group traveled to the Dominican Republic, the place they performed three video games throughout Christmas week, dealing with the Dominican Military, the Nationwide Police and a semi-pro group managed by the daddy of Robinson Cano.
Throughout the video games, Pichardo stated she heard followers yell out to her in English and in Spanish.
“They have been yelling, ‘Woman!’ or ‘I like you.’ It was wild,” Pichardo stated. “It was plenty of enjoyable.”
In a type of video games, Pichardo went 2-for-4 with a pair of singles, boosting her confidence.
The Brown group returned dwelling on Jan. 1, and its season began on Feb. 24.
Pichardo’s season, nevertheless, didn’t begin straight away. She didn’t make Brown’s journey roster – which is restricted in dimension as a consequence of Ivy League guidelines – and she or he needed to wait till the Bears’ dwelling opener on March 17 to make her debut.
Max Pichardo was there for the house opener, not considering his daughter – who’s a freshman walk-on in any case – would get an opportunity to play. Max would’ve been content material simply to see his child warming up earlier than the sport in an precise Brown uniform.
However, within the ninth inning, the chums Max was sitting with set free a roar.
A loud roar.
“They scared the crap out of me,” Max stated. “I requested them: ‘What occurred? Are the Russians attacking?’”
Fairly the other.
Max’s pals yelled as a result of they’d noticed Pichardo stroll to the on-deck circle, swinging a bat. Moments later, the announcer stated:
“Now batting for Brown, No. 19, Olivia Pichardo.”
Along with her lengthy darkish hair cascading down her again and her purple batting gloves, Pichardo stood out as she took her follow swings.
Bryant righthander M.T. Morrissey then fired an upper-80s fastball. Pichardo made sharp contact, however Petosa scooped up the grounder and trotted to first for the putout.
Max stated he wasn’t as outwardly emotional as he would have thought throughout his daughter’s massive second.
“I had pictured myself crying like a maniac,” Max stated. “However I calmly videotaped her at-bat. It was surreal.”
Max stated it was frigid that night time – within the mid-to-low-40s – and he apprehensive about Olivia coming in chilly to face a pitcher after having sat for 9 innings.
However, Max stated, he was impressed by his daughter’s method, swinging at a pitch that was down the center moderately than letting that chance go.
After the sport, Max took his daughter to her favourite restaurant, Longhorn, the place they every loved a juicy steak.
“The very first thing she stated was, ‘I used to be so chilly’ (on the plate),” Max stated. “She additionally advised me she needed to verify she attacked the primary pitch that was good as a substitute of hitting from behind within the rely.”
Pichardo, who’s finding out Enterprise/Economics, is contemplating working towards a post-playing profession as a front-office government for an MLB group.
This previous Might, she labored an internship together with her hometown group, the New York Mets, and she or he was thrilled that it was a company surroundings however concurrently relaxed as a result of “they’re all sports activities individuals.”
Within the meantime, Pichardo stated she’s had a number of younger women who’ve reached out to her, asking for recommendation on their very own baseball journeys.
“I play baseball as a result of I find it irresistible,” Pichardo stated. “However it’s much more motivational to maintain going and be the perfect participant I could be as a result of there are younger women who look as much as me.
“Generally, I neglect the place I’m in (as a ladies’s baseball pioneer). The messages I get from women are an excellent reminder of the position I’m enjoying.”