Coming back home

Family, friends and pets will get to see more of Kennedy Sullivan the next two years. After entering the NCAA transfer portal earlier this spring, the three-time KHSAA softball state champion from Scott County High School announced this week that she will play for the University of Kentucky. Sullivan starred the past three seasons at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green.

The University of Kentucky softball program didn’t waste a second chance to secure former Scott County star Kennedy Sullivan’s services.

Back when Sullivan’s strong right arm and powerful bat headlined the Cardinals’ flight to KHSAA championships in 2014, 2016 and 2018, UK heavily recruited a few of her rivals but didn’t make a major push to land the proven winner.

Sullivan committed early to Western Kentucky University and excelled for three seasons, helping to grow the Hilltoppers into an NCAA tournament team this past spring.

That success persuaded Sullivan to take one more shot at playing for a national powerhouse. She entered the transfer portal in late May, and one of the first calls was from none other than the Wildcats.

Her homecoming to Central Kentucky became official Wednesday, when Sullivan announced on her social media platforms that she plans to play for UK.

“I’m so excited to announce that I will be continuing my softball and academic career at the University of Kentucky,” wrote Sullivan, who also posted a picture showing off the familiar Big Blue Nation colors and white, block UK logo. “I’m so thankful for this opportunity and can’t wait to be a Wildcat.”

Due to the extra year granted to the NCAA by all athletes in deference to COVID-19 and its across-the-board impact on athletics, Sullivan will have two years of eligibility remaining.

She is eligible to play immediately in 2021.

Sullivan’s parting shot for WKU included an undefeated season on the mound. She went 9-0 with a 2.40 ERA in 19 appearances for the Tops, headlined by 13 starts. 

No Western Kentucky pitcher gave up fewer than Sullivan’s totals of 44 hits and 24 earned runs, and opponents batted a paltry .180 against her.

She did even more damage at the plate, topping the WKU offense with 14 home runs and 49 RBI. Sullivan’s batting average of .358 ranked second on the roster.

Sullivan likely sent the most powerful message to her future school by delivering a two-out double to the gap and giving WKU a 2-1, walkoff win over UK in March. The Wildcats were ranked seventh in the nation at the time.

She was selected all-Conference USA second team.

The pitching ace for SC’s title-winning teams in 2016 and 2018, Sullivan spun a microscopic 0.24 ERA as a senior, when the Cardinals lost only two games all season en route to the crown.

On the final day of the double-elimination tournament, Sullivan outlasted Warren East, 2-1, in 13-inning semifinal marathon before flinging a 10-0 shutout against the same opponent to take home the trophy.

She expects to continue her two-way exploits at UK, which will welcome back only one other experienced starting pitcher next spring.

Kal Oakes can be reached via email at sports@news-graphic.com.

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