COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - South Carolina’s ace, redshirt sophomore Carmen Mlodzinski, is embracing a new opportunity 2020 brings on the diamond.
Last season, Mlodzinski hit rock bottom emotionally when an injury cut his season short. It was a twist in fate that wound up becoming a blessing in disguise.
"Having a failure like that last year and getting hurt was something I had to learn from,” Mlodzinski said. “It's just an experience I'm going forward with."
Mldozinski made three appearances in 2019, but a broken foot ended his season after the Clemson game. It immediately took its toll mentally.
"There were a couple of weeks I didn't know I wanted to play baseball,” he said. “So, I went through a phase there where I had to find a love for the game."
The star pitcher had to look inward to rediscover the passion for playing and find his true self.
"In the past last year, I went through a pretty big mental change,” Mlodzinski said. “You kind of really have to figure out who you are by yourself because no one is going to know you like yourself."
Part of his inward reflection centered on putting his big league aspirations into perspective.
"I wanted to be very successful,” he said. “I almost wanted to be a big leaguer as a sophomore in college. It's a good goal to have to want to be successful at a young age, but it's a process to get there."
Mlodzinski used the time sitting to reach a place of comfort with his game and mind.
"Way more comfortable with myself. That's the number one word,” Mlodzinski said. “I'm a lot more comfortable with my body and myself, my person, who I am."
It showed in the summer in the Cape Cod League, in which he dominated with a 2-0 record with a 2.14 ERA. It was a massive boost to his confidence entering this season.
"Going up there and having success was big for his confidence," Mlodzinski added.
On Tuesday, Mlodzinski tabbed as a preseason All-American by D1 Baseball, which added even more confidence to go along with a new state of mind whenever he takes the hill for Carolina.
“I’m a big believer that, when you’re out there, you have to be who you are,” Mlodzinski said. “If you’re putting on a fake face, it’s going to be a lot more pressure on yourself. So, pitching out there like the goofball I am, it should be a lot easier.”