ELMHURST – Gracie Sullivan always has been the youngest.
This spring she experienced being one of the oldest.
The York senior was born mere days from the cutoff to starting school a year later. She won’t turn 18 until Sept. 12 so in school and in sports she got used to being the youngest.
Sullivan is one of just two seniors on the York softball team and is enjoying being the veteran and leader.
“On travel and everything, I’ve always been the youngest so it’s kind of weird being the oldest,” Sullivan said. “I like it.”
Along with fellow senior Elena Schwarz, Sullivan had to become a leader on a team full of younger talent. Despite the youth, the Dukes have gotten on a roll in the West Suburban Silver and own a 6-2 league record.
“Being one of the seniors out here, she’s definitely stepped up as a leader for us,” York coach Drew McGuire said. “She’s helped the younger kids improve in their game and she’s a constant voice on the bench. It’s really good to see, and I’m happy for all the success that she’s had this year.”
McGuire noted Sullivan struggled as a junior offensively but has bounced back with a strong season. Entering Thursday, Sullivan had a .325 batting average and led the team with eight doubles.
After pitching and playing outfield last year, Sullivan has turned her focus to left field this season. She has teamed with junior center fielder Angela Scalzitti to give York a pair of strong arms in the outfield, and both have shown that off regularly.
The move to outfield has come because she was recruited to play outfield at Division II Caldwell College in New Jersey, which is about 20 miles from New York City. The school spotted her at an exposure tournament in Colorado.
“I wasn’t expecting to like it because it was such a small school,” Sullivan said. “My dream school was Indiana, but college is so expensive that it was like whoever gives me the most money I’ll just go there.”
Before she heads to college, Sullivan is hoping for one final playoff run with York. The Dukes earned the No. 2 seed in the Class 4A Resurrection sectional behind top seed Trinity.
“I’m banking on winning regionals because that would be nice to win three out of the four years I’ve been at York,” Sullivan said. “I’ve never won sectionals and we have a nice road to winning sectionals.”