WASHINGTON - If you ask a college student what they did this past summer, one will usually respond about an internship or waiting tables, but Georgetown softball player Ciara Sullivan (Middletown, N.J./Middletown) had a more unusual response. Sullivan, a sophomore on the team, decided to spend her summer after freshman year of college to play softball for Ireland’s National Softball Team.
During Sullivan’s first year playing softball for the Hoyas, she appeared in 31 games while having eight hits and seven runs scored in her 33 at-bats. She registered a 1.000 fielding percentage with one assist and seven putouts.
The GU outfielder found a chance to play for Team Ireland in the summer of 2017 through her Dad’s online research.
“My Dad saw something on Twitter about a girl from my town who was going to play for Team Ireland in the summer, so my Dad looked into it and saw that the coaches were looking for more players,” says Sullivan.
The Ireland coaches knew Georgetown’s Head Coach Pat Conlan prior to Sullivan’s father contacting them, and after hearing that his daughter plays for Conlan, they immediately wanted her on the international team. This is the first player that Conlan has coached at Georgetown to play for an international team.
“My Dad called me one day while I was at Georgetown and said, ‘So, do you want to play softball in Italy this summer?’ and I replied saying, ‘What kind of question is that? Yes!” and he goes, ‘Okay, cool because I already signed you up’”, Sullivan recollected the day that she found out back in February 2017 that she was going over to Italy in the summer to play for Team Ireland.
It turned out that Sullivan’s mom was born in Ireland, and to be a citizen, one only has to go back two generations to become a citizen. Luckily for Sullivan, she only had to go back one generation to become a dual citizen.
At the end of June 2017, Sullivan flew to Bollate, Italy for two weeks to play in the Senior European Championships. While playing one or two games a day in Italy, Team Ireland set a record for the longest played softball game in Europe with 13 innings against Team Slovakia. Sullivan drove in the winning run for the team to end the game. Team Ireland finished the tournament 3-6.
In Italy, Sullivan finished with a .346 batting average. She had six runs and nine hits throughout the nine games. She led the team with two triples and most runs scored.
A month later, Team Ireland traveled to Clearwater, Florida for the Junior World Championships. They went into the tournament ranked 31st in the nation and finished 18th overall with a final record of 3-5. Sullivan had a .389 batting average while playing in Fla. and contributed six RBIs for the team.
One of Sullivan’s highlights while playing for Team Ireland was during the 4-1 victory over Korea. Sullivan went 2-for-4 at bat with two doubles and two RBIs.
Sullivan will be gearing up for Summer 2019 when Team Ireland will be competing to qualify for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, which will make its return in the next Sumer Olympic Games. The team will be competing in multiple tournaments in Summer 2019 in order to make it to the 2020 Games.
Her experience playing for Ireland’s National Team has helped Sullivan understand the positions better on the field and she can take that knowledge with her back to Georgetown. She usually plays the corner positions in the outfield for the Hoyas, but she started in center field for Team Ireland and now better understands how the outfield works. Sullivan also said that she learned how to adapt while playing overseas because of all of the different styles of pitching that she encountered from each team.
However, the part that Sullivan was the most eager to share about her experience was when she learned how to say “good luck” in 23 different languages.
“Since we speak English, they would all say good luck in English to you, but no one knew how to say it in their language,” said Sullivan. “So I would go around asking them how to say good luck in Hebrew and then they would tell me so I currently have 23 voice memos learning how to say “good luck” on my phone. The players would immediately turn their heads after games when I would say it back to them in their language.”