“I was devastated because I didn’t get to play,” Sullins, who is taking her game to the collegiate level, said. “I really liked it. I wanted to play and I wanted to be good at it.”
It changed her level of dedication to the sport.
“I got on the travel ball team, and I ended up starting in the eighth grade and I started every year after that,” she said.
Did she ever start after that, too.
Sullins, who signed a scholarship to play with Cleveland State, in Cleveland, Tenn., on Tuesday, played first with Cartersville then moved to Excel her senior year.
At Excel she and her teammates made the state playoffs, winning some 25 games by season’s end.
Sullins said even though she had played since she was 7, she became a different kind of player for the Lady Eagles.
“[Playing at Excel] was a life-changing experience for me,” she said. “I grew as a player. My mindset changed. I was able to focus. When I was at Cartersville, I focused only on myself. When I came here, it was more like I’d changed my attitude. I changed to play for my team instead of myself. I became a different person and I really think it was because I came closer to God.”
She also picked up some great memories at the school, including her play on senior night against Trion.
“I hit the game-winning home run,” she said. “We were all down about it because we were losing by two runs and we didn’t see ourselves coming back. I came up to bat and hit a home run and scored three runs and we ended up winning.”
Sullins accumulated some impressive statistics to go with those memories, including membership on the All-State team.
Danny Deems, her coach at Excel, said Sullins became a power hitter as a Lady Eagle.
“She’d never hit a home run in high school,” he said, “and she hit six for us. She hit .357 and 31 RBIs.”
Just as important as those offensive statistics, he said, was her play defensively.
“She was an integral part of our winning 25 games,” he said.
Deems said Sullins should improve her game dramatically at Cleveland State by sharpening her skills at the collegiate level.
“She has just scratched the surface of how good she can be,” he said.
The coach said he’s also glad to see all the years of hard work on her part is paying off with a scholarship that will help her gain a college education.
Sullins said she is looking forward to playing at Cleveland State, adding that Sydney Howell, a former teammate at Excel who will be attending the school, helped her get a tryout that led to her scholarship.
“I didn’t know if I wanted to play anymore because of my kidney situation,” she said. “But my friend Sydney told me she’d help me get in contact with her coach and we could be all up there together.”
Sullins, who said she had a kidney removed after softball season, said she contacted coaches at Cleveland State and, based on her performance at a tryout, was offered a scholarship.”
She said she tried out for first and second base.
“Hopefully I will play one of the two. As long as I get to play, though, I’ll be happy,” she added.
At Cleveland State, she plans to enroll in its pre-med program.