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Sullivan returns with new mindset

Press Photo by Meaghan MacDonald Dickinson State senior Lindsay Sullivan catches a throw against Black Hill State on April 19 at Dickinson’s North Complex.

When playing a team sport for so long, it’s easy to go through the motions and get into a rhythm with your own game.

But when an athlete is sidelined for injury or other reasons, the process may not be as detrimental to their career as they believe.

After missing last season to an ACL injury, Dickinson State senior Lindsay Sullivan saw her sport and team in a completely different light.

“It’s frustrating, but you kind of see like how the game works, you see how camaraderie works, you see what team work actually is,” Sullivan said. “You see how things string together with teams, where if you have a single sport like swimming or golf, they don’t have what a team sport has.”

During fall ball last season — which would have been her senior year — Sullivan was running to second base and stopped quickly instead of sliding. Her knee twisted and popped. After a MRI, Sullivan received the news she suffered a tear in her ACL.

The road to recovery wasn’t the quickest and involved several steps. But Sullivan knew the process of returning from this injury as she had torn her other ACL. However, her return date was unknown.

“It was devastating to see her tear her ACL which was going to be her senior year,” DSU head coach Kristen Fleury said. “You never know how a kid is going to come back after that.”

Sidelined and trying to get healthy, Sullivan said the only way she was able to get through the process was the moral support from the team. Instead of sitting on the bench, Sullivan was put to work doing odd jobs for the team which kept her busy and motivated.

“I got really lucky because most redshirts end up hanging out and not doing anything but I got lucky with coach putting me at DakStats, running the music, being a part of the team,” she said. “Even if you’re not playing, you’re still there and still have a role.”

When Sullivan was ready to play, she was more excited to get back on the field with the team than caring about her own personal performance.

With her time on the bench observing and learning, Sullivan took away a great deal of knowledge about team anatomy and how contagious a successful performance can be.

“Well, I almost started crying,” she said with a laugh. “I love playing ball and stuff, but the biggest thing for me was being able to get back on the field with the girls. All of them are like my best friends. We’re all a big family.”

Sullivan had a tough start to the season and was just 6 for 21 at the plate in her first ten games. Fleury suggested Sullivan’s competitive nature and desire to be the best was getting in her head, but once she got back into a rhythm, the results began to show.

Sullivan is hitting .443 with six home runs. She’s ranked No. 37 in the NAIA with 47 RBI and has a 12-game hit streak in the last games of the season.

“Early on in the season she struggled on a little bit and she wanted to prove so much and wanted to make up for lost time,” Fleury said. ‘When she finally started to settle down and take a deep breath and take the pressure off herself is when she started to really be successful.”

Sullivan added: “I think finally we’re all starting to click together and that’s rubbing off on me, rubbing on everybody else. It’s totally a team effort. It’s not even personal at all.”

Not only does Sullivan provide a strong presence at the plate, she is a true leader whose attitude and drive sets an example of how the team should act.

“Lindsay’s really a natural leader and it’s great to have her around,” junior pitcher Regan Lawrence said. “When you’re down she picks you back up, when you’re fooling around she tells you. A really good choice for captain I think and she leads with her playing too.

“She’s able to get some big key hits when we need them and a really solid player.”

With the regular season over and the playoffs about to begin, Sullivan will eventually face the tough reality her collegiate careers is ending.

Sullivan isn’t worried about saying goodbye, because softball will always be a big part of her life. Whether it be playing slow pitch or coaching.

“Softball will be in my life no matter what, I’ll be coaching I’ll hopefully be playing slow pitch,” she said. But everybody who plays softball still has it in their life afterwards. You have kids, nieces, nephews and friends … It’s such a small world when it comes to softball.”

Meaghan MacDonald

Meaghan is the sports page designer and copy editor for the Forum of Fargo-Moorhead.  After graduating from James Madison University (Va.) in May 2013, she moved from New Jersey to North Dakota to start pursuing her career in sports journalism and was a sports reporter for the Dickinson Press and covered Dickinson State athletics. Meaghan has been working for the Forum since June 2015.