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Friday, March 27, 2008


MEDFORD -- As a member of the Tufts basketball team in the winter and the softball team in the spring, sophomore Casey Sullivan (Berlin, CT) knew she wouldn't get any time off in between seasons. Softball practice started on February 15, which was when the Jumbo basketball team was defeating Bowdoin College for the first time since 1994 on the last weekend of the regular season. She would join the softball team as soon as basketball season ended.

When the basketball team continued its best season ever for another month, advancing to the NCAA Tournament "Elite 8", Sullivan was not with the softball team when it departed by plane to play in the season-opening Sun West Tournament in California on March 15. She was at Messiah College in Grantham, Pennsylvania with the basketball team. However, showing fantastic Jumbo spirit, Sullivan would jet across the country and arrive at the softball field in time to join her teammates for the season-opener on Sunday (Mar. 16) at 1:00 pm PDT.

On Friday night (Mar. 14), Sullivan had helped Tufts upset 2007 NCAA "Final Four" participant University of Mary Washington, 48-45, by scoring six points off the bench. On Saturday the Jumbos finished their outstanding season with a 26-4 record after losing to host Messiah in the national quarter-finals, 55-49. That's when softball season began for Sullivan.

Immediately after the loss to Messiah on Saturday night in Pennsylvania, Sullivan and her parents drove to their house in Connecticut. They arrived at 2:00 am, and then she and her dad left the house at 5:00 am for the airport. They flew into Las Vegas and then into Orange, California, landing an hour before Tufts was set to play Central College in its first game of the season at the Chapman University softball complex. Sullivan took a cab from the airport to the field while her dad rented a car and got the luggage. Her uniform was waiting for her at the field, and she was able to dress and warm up for the game. She did not play in the team's two games that day, but her effort in getting there was the equivalent to a grand slam.

"I did sleep throughout most of the flight, but found it hard because I was excited to get to California," she said. "It was nice not to miss an inning. The trip went pretty smoothly. (Softball) Coach (Cheryl) Milligan and my parents helped me out a lot with planning for the trip, and it was made a lot easier because of them."

Sullivan literally got into the swing of things with softball the next day. In her first game of the season against Avila University, on St. Patrick's Day, she started at shortstop and went 4 for 4 with four runs scored and four RBI. She hit a solo home run to lead off the fourth inning and fielded three chances cleanly. The Jumbos won in five innings, 16-3. An All-American for the team as a freshman at second base last year, she finished the week in California with a .483 batting average, 14 runs scored and 12 runs batted in. However, the team, which has NCAA College World Series aspirations this season, was not satisfied with its 7-5 showing at the tournament.

Just like that, with no time to enjoy the basketball team's unprecedented success, Sullivan is into softball season. She is a major player on a team that looks to put it all together when its northern schedule begins this weekend (Mar. 28-29) at home on Spicer Field against Bowdoin College.

"There is still a lot that I need to work on that I didn't get to practice because of basketball," Sullivan said. "Last week was the first time that I played softball since the fall, and the first time that any of us had played outside in a few months. We are all far from where we want to be for playoffs in May. However, our team this year has a lot of diverse talent, and I am really excited about the goals we are going to achieve this year once we all click."

Playing in the NCAA Basketball "Elite 8" is something Sullivan will remember for the rest of her life. Now a part of another Tufts team that works hard during practice and plays well together in games, maybe another berth into the NCAA final eight is possible. With her dash from a basketball court in Pennsylvania across the country to a softball field in California, in less than a day's time, Casey Sullivan showed her commitment to being a big part of both teams.

"These past two weeks were probably the most hectic for me out of the last year," Sullivan said, "but they were completely worth it."