By RYAN HERMAN
Most student-athletes taking the junior college route will get at least one season under their belt before the big colleges come calling.
Danny Sullivan hasn’t even completed a full week at Catawba Valley Community College, yet he’s already landed a Division I spot.
Sullivan, the power hitter who helped send the Lincoln County Cardinals to the American Legion N.C. state tournament last month for the first time and a 2013 graduate of East Lincoln High, verbally committed to UNC Asheville last week to play baseball for the Bulldogs in 2015.
And he’s yet to have one official at-bat for the Buccaneers.
“Usually (Division I) colleges wait until after your first year of college and see what you’re going to do first, but they offered me earlier than usual,” said Sullivan, who will play one season at CVCC next spring before heading west.
“They saw what I can do in Legion ball,” Sullivan added. “I was able to shine, so I guess they saw the potential that I had and what impact I could have on a team. … I guess they wanted me.”
And shine Sullivan did.
The third baseman led Area IV this summer in batting at .469 –– .519 in the Area IV playoffs –– and Post 455 to its best season in history.
“I was more relaxed at the plate. I kind of went in there and did my own thing. I wasn’t trying to prove anything, I was just out there relaxed, but also out there with confidence,” Sullivan said. “Going out there with that attitude it was a lot easier getting hits and getting on base.”
Plus getting noticed.
Sullivan said he had never spoken to anyone from Asheville until after the Cardinals’ season had ended.
He took a visit to its campus, fell in love, and told its coaches he’d see them in the fall of 2014.
“It feels great. It’s a great opportunity to get some looks and go on to the next level. I’ve always said that it’s not where you start, it’s where you end up,” Sullivan said. “Even if I didn’t go D-I, it would matter that much to me. It was still a good opportunity that I didn’t want to let go.”
Sullivan, who only a few months ago signed with Region X juco power and nationally-ranked CVCC, bounced back after having two elbow surgeries –– one Tommy John –– to close out his prep career in style.
Sullivan, once a highly-touted right-handed pitcher, moved to third base when, following the surgery, the “pitching wasn’t there like it used to be.”
Sullivan said he moved to the left side of the infield near the end of his junior season, and things have been rolling right along since.
“I knew it was going to be rough coming back … but I figured I could still do it,” he said.
With his career after CVCC already taken care of, Sullivan can now focus on helping the Buccaneers get back to the D-II junior college world series in Enid, Okla. –– they made it in 2012.
And continuing the torrid pace that got him his first D-I offer.
“I ended up having a pretty good season,” Sullivan said. “I just want to do the best that I can, and have fun while I’m there.”