Kimmy Sullivan in barely more than two months’ time has set foot on more college campuses than most people do in a lifetime.
Being a Division I softball player at a Midwestern university results in bus rides to airports followed by flights to warm-weather destinations.
A first baseman for the University of Notre Dame, Sullivan already has crouched down to scoop grounders at Auburn, Jacksonville, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Central Florida and North Carolina.
Add the Irish’s participation in tournaments at expansive complexes in Cathedral City, Calif., and Kissimmee, Fla., and the former four-year starter at Center Grove owns one busy itinerary.
“The season has been awesome. The biggest adjustment is traveling a lot and trying to manage that,” Sullivan said. “It was a little difficult at first, so you have to make sure you’re studying on bus rides and at the motel. I study on airplanes, too.”
Sullivan’s track record both athletically and academically is virtually without peers.
Not only was she Center Grove’s valedictorian in 2013, Sullivan batted a sizzling .611 in 2013 to go along with seven doubles, nine home runs, 32 runs and 38 RBIs in only 23 games.
To the surprise of no one, she owns the Trojans’ career standard in home runs (23).
Sullivan has known for some time she would be part of the Notre Dame program, having committed to play there in January 2011, her sophomore year of high school.
It’s been everything she envisioned and more.
“I love it here so much, and we have really good chemistry on this team,” Sullivan said. “I never once felt like I was an outcast.”
And one player’s adjustments can be another’s comfort zone.
Notre Dame’s unlimited recruiting reach allows the softball program to harvest talent nationwide. The 2014 Irish roster is made up of 17 athletes from six states, including nine from California.
As one of two players from an Indiana high school (Penn’s Jenna Simon, a junior infielder, is the other), Sullivan enjoyed to a certain extent watching the reactions as her California teammates experienced this past winter’s brutal cold.
“We have a lot of California girls on our team, and it was funny watching them handle this winter. They handled it pretty well. I didn’t have to give them too many pointers,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan, who played third base for coach Russ Milligan’s Center Grove program, lines up at first base at the collegiate level. She also has been utilized as a pinch hitter.
“I knew coming in that I would play first base. I like it,” Sullivan said. “I’ve had to work on scooping up throws in the dirt and stuff like that.”
Notre Dame’s current doubleheader at Atlantic Coast Conference foe North Carolina on Wednesday began with the 23rd-ranked Irish having won 12 of their past 17 games.
Its next four are at home, with three against Florida State at Melissa Cook Stadium on April 13 and 14, and an April 16 matchup with Toledo.
A long season, to be sure. And Sullivan is loving every at-bat of it.
“Kimmy has assimilated well into our program and became a contributing team member quickly. She shows up every day and works hard, and her positive attitude has helped her to develop here at Notre Dame,” 13th-year Irish head coach Deanna Gumpf said.
“She is a player who will have her chance to make an impact on our program with the more experience and playing time that she gains.”