South Dakota State University's Independent Student-Run Newspaper Since 1885

The Collegian

South Dakota State University's Independent Student-Run Newspaper Since 1885

The Collegian

South Dakota State University's Independent Student-Run Newspaper Since 1885

The Collegian


Carrillos help SDSU softball reach Summit League heights
Romeo T Guzman
Centerfield Jocelyn Carrillo diving for a ball in the outfield. In 2023, Jocelyn had 164 at bats where she amounted to 52 hits, 37 runs, 7 homeruns, 36 RBIs and batting a .317 average.

South Dakota State’s softball team includes three sisters from California- two of whom are established stars and a younger sibling who hopes to someday match her sisters’ accomplishments on the field.

Jocelyn, Rozelyn, and Keira Carrillo are from Palmdale, about an hour north of Los Angeles. Rozelyn, a senior shortstop, is a two-time first team All-Summit League performer. Jocelyn, a fifth-year senior centerfielder, earned first team All-Summit League honors last year. Keira, meanwhile, is a sophomore transfer who arrived in Brookings in January and will spend the year redshirting. 

She hopes to continue the successful Carrillo sister run next year as an outfielder. Kristina McSweeney, in her 2nd year as Jackrabbit coach, said each sister brings different contributions to her team, which has won the Jackrabbits 3 Summit League titles in the past 5 years.

“Rozelyn brings the fire and spunk to this team, which is just what we need,” McSweeney said. “Jocelyn is a quiet leader. She wants the best for each and every one of her teammates. Keira is the perfect combination of both. She is fiery but quiet. Tiny but mighty. Plays hard to prove herself and has a great work ethic.”

The SDSU softball team recently visited the home state of the Carrillo sisters where they faced Fresno State, Santa Clara and CSU Bakersfield, going 3-2. 

Both Rozelyn and Jocelyn batted a .167 back in their home state while Keria stayed back and cheered her sisters on from Brookings due to her redshirt season. Next year Keria will keep the spark that her sisters will be leaving behind.

For the oldest of the three sisters, Jocelyn, coming to SDSU was a bit of a fluke. She went from not even knowing where Brookings, South Dakota, was to finding her new home in Brookings.

Her story began with her older brother’s recruiting process. Romeo Carrillo wanted to attend a school where he could study aviation as well as pitch for the baseball team- a possibility at SDSU because of its aviation program. He filmed videos of himself pitching and sent them to SDSU baseball coach Mitch Mormann. 

Mormann could not help but notice the skill of his sister, who was catching in all his videos. 

He shared the videos with former Jackrabbits softball coach Krista Wood. Jocelyn contacted the softball coach and became a Jackrabbit soon after their visit. 

Romeo didn’t end up going here, but that is how the Carrillo sisters found their home at SDSU.

“My dad persuaded me in my decision to attend South Dakota State,” Jocelyn said. “The environment it contains with the support of the community, and the facilities, and the involvement of the coaching staff.”

Jocelyn said she thinks SDSU is a special place. She has learned so much about herself during her five years here. 

One of the most special things she has experienced is that being on a team here is so unique and not something that everyone gets to experience. The softball program has experienced shocking changes in the past five years. The leadership of the Carrillo sisters and staffing changes are a large part of that. In 2018 the Jackrabbits softball team was picked to be last in the Summit League. After rebuilding the program, they won the conference in 2021 and haven’t lost it since. 

Jocelyn describes the love that her teammates show each other as “sacrificial.” The most important thing to Jocelyn is her faith in Jesus. She found this at SDSU which is the biggest factor in what makes it so special to her.

“I have the same love for every single one of the girls on my team, it is the same type of love I have for my sisters,” Jocelyn said.

Rozelyn was unsure about choosing SDSU at first. But as her senior year in high school approached, she decided to give it a shot. She describes the people here as “endlessly supportive.” 

Each year has been different. The first year was the start of rebuilding the program. Each year moving forward from there the team has been striving to get better.

Rozelyn said she thinks even though a change of coaching staff can be rattling to the team environment, the switch to McSweeney has brought to the team changed them for the better. 

McSweeney took over after Wood moved to Creighton after her 8th season.

“Coach McSweeney has helped me to understand that softball doesn’t define who we are,”

Rozelyn said. “She knows what is good for the team and how to push us to make us better.”

Jocelyn’s main goal is to leave the program better than she found it, and to lead the Jackrabbits to an unforgettable season this spring. After college she plans to work in ministry through Fellowship of Christian Athletes, as well as filling the role as a strength coach for the Jackrabbits.

Rozelyn plans to pursue a master’s degree in Sports and recreation management and work as a graduate assistant. It is all part of her dream to coach softball. 

Jocelyn, Rozelyn, and Keira Carrillo all attended Highland High School in Palmdale and were standout athletes. Keira attended Fresno State for her first year but transferred and joined her sisters in Brookings last month.

Keira heard good things about SDSU from her sisters and decided to take the offer. She is beginning to feel at home and said she is surrounded by people who support her. Keira describes her sisters as people who lead by example.

“They both play with tunnel vision. They always stay positive and don’t get down on themselves,” Keira said. She looks up to both her sisters and strives to play like them. “This team works as a unit. They work to be great, not just good.”

The Jackrabbits will face a tough preseason schedule. This weekend they head to Texas where they will face Texas A&M Commerce, Missouri, and North Texas. 

Summit League play begins March 23 where they will face University of South Dakota in Vermillion, SD. The Summit League Softball Championship will take place here in Brookings May 8- May 11.

“This is going to be a good year,” Kiera said.“I am so excited, this is going to be a great year,” McSweeney said. “We are senior heavy, so they have all of that experience behind them. They are all such great people. The wins and losses don’t matter, I am just looking forward to being with them all for one more year.”

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    Papa Ed RiethFeb 16, 2024 at 4:27 pm

    Well being the Carrillo Trio’s grandfather (Papa Ed), I’ve watched these young ladies since they were old enough to hold a bat and ball, so, I may being just a little partial on my assessment of their gifts and abilities, but here we go…….

    Joz, Roz & Keira are part of “Team Carrillo”, a family of amazing compassionate, caring and driven group of young people raised, mentored and coached by their incredible parents Art & Mandy Carrillo.

    From their personal relationships with Jesus and impeccable work ethics, which is reflected in their GPA’s, to their commitment and team spirit which is reflected by their performances on and off the field, they have all beat the odds!
    And it has been such an honor and privilege to watch them all grow and succeed, can’t wait to be back in Brookings this May for the Regional Championships.