A “say hey” to Ohio State’s outfielder Dee Dee Hillman might mean more than just a greeting.Hillman compares her softball prowess to Major League legend Willie Mays.“We have the same mentality that wherever the ball is hit, I’m going to get it,” Hillman said. “That is my outfield mentality. I love to make the plays that seem to be impossible. I love the challenge.”Not only can Hillman play defense like Mays, making only one error this year, but she hits like him as well.In a two-week span from April 21 to May 2, Hillman had a .524 batting average from the leadoff position.The team went 7-1 during this stretch, including a split series over the No. 2 team in the country, Michigan.Batting first in Ohio State’s lineup is an important role, which she considers an honor.“It’s my responsibility to get everybody off to a good start and set a good tone,” Hillman said. “I think it’s my job to break the ice.”Coach Linda Kalafatis has simple expectations for her leadoff hitter when she approaches the plate.“Get on base and challenge the defense,” Kalafatis said. Hillman’s role as the leadoff hitter is enhanced because of her ability to put the ball in play.She has only struck out 12 times all season.“It comes down to being relentless and knowing that (the pitcher) is not going to get me out,” Hillman said.Though Kalafatis has simple expectations, Hillman has had to work hard to fulfill her coach’s wishes.“I know I have been putting a lot of extra work in and all the extra swings in the (batting) cages is really starting to pay off,” Hillman said.Hillman’s work ethic spotlights her versatility. She is the only player listed on the roster as a switch hitter. “I switched over from a righty hitter to a lefty when I was about 14 and it has its advantages,” Hillman said. “The fact that you are two steps closer to first base is really huge. Another advantage is that you can mis-hit and still beat it out.”As the junior’s confidence has been increasing with every game, she has made big strides compared to last year.In 2009, Hillman hit .297, whereas this season she is second on the team with a .361 batting average. Her big strides are evident in the batter’s box, but much shorter on the base paths. Hillman led the team last year with 17 stolen bases. This season, she only has five.One reason Hillman has not been able to “run like Mays” is because of a lingering hamstring injury, but her coach believes there is a bit more strategy to worry about.“We don’t want to open up first base and invite teams to walk Sam Marder,” Kalafatis said. “We don’t want to open the base up.”As the regional tournament approaches, Hillman is already looking to change up her game for next year.“As I am getting older, other teams start to know you a little bit better and start to scout you more.” Hillman said. “So, if it comes to bunting or just working more on power-slapping to hit it more in the gaps, I’ll do whatever.”In the end, Kalafatis is aware of Hillman’s big goal.“She wants to be an All-American,” Kalafatis said.

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