Coaches are always looking for versatility in their players. Virginia Tech’s pitcher Joey Sullivan exemplified versatility all year long, making 26 appearances from the bullpen and four starts on the mound. At the end of the regular season, Sullivan’s 30 appearances were the 23rd most in the NCAA and led the Hokies. Now heading into his senior season, Sullivan is expected to maintain a similar role under coach John Szefc.
Q: What are your favorite TV shows?
JS: My favorite TV show is Designated Survivor and then America’s Got Talent.
Q: You’re from McLean, so what’s the best thing to do in the D.C. area?
JS: All my siblings live in D.C. so it’s nice to be able to have my family around and go visit them. I love to go to Nats games, Caps games, Wizards games obviously. Going to museums and walking around the monuments is cool, but it’s nice that all my family is around that area for sure.
Q: If you didn’t play baseball in college, what other sport would you play?
JS: Swimming, probably. I think I could have swam in college. I was pretty good at it, I just didn’t love it as much as baseball. I started when I was eight and went all the way until I was 18 before I came to Tech. It’s a cool sport, it’s a unique sport, it’s a lot different from baseball obviously.
Q: If you were a hitter, what would your walk-up song be?
JS: Probably Despacito.
Q: The bases are loaded with one out and you’re brought into the game. How are you attacking the hitter?
JS: Obviously you want to try to go for a ground ball, a strikeout too. Two to get you one for a ground ball, roll a double play. I’d probably start off with a fastball to try to get ahead. Then I’d throw some breakers. If it went to 3-2, I’d probably risk it there and go with a slider.
Q: What’s your favorite baseball memory?
JS: Committing to Tech was incredible. Even just right now, I know this is pretty cliché to say, but even just having a game of catch with my dad when I go home. Even if it’s just for 60 feet cause he can’t get the ball as far anymore. I think it’s just the fact that it’s brought me so close to my family. Just the times that I’ve spent with baseball, but more so being with my family. Just having a game of catch with my dad is one of my favorite things to do.
Q: How has it been working with the new coaching staff so far this year?
JS: It’s been awesome. They’ve been incredible. I think we’re very, very fortunate. I think the program is going to go in the right direction. Coach Szefc is amazing. He’s about as even-keeled as it gets. It’s kind of how I want to be and how I strive to live my life, but I have a long way to go to be as good as him.
Q: You had a team-high 30 appearances last year. How do you stay in the moment, even when you’re not starting, to be ready to enter in any situation?
JS: That’s just the nature of being a reliever. I really enjoy that. I really enjoy coming out of the bullpen in late inning situations. It’s tough to be physically your best every day, but you can be mentally tough and mentally sharp to be ready to go every day. There were definitely some times where I think I threw 10 games in a row last year. I probably didn’t have my best stuff. Unless I physically can’t throw, I don’t see the reason why I shouldn’t be ready to go in the game.
Q: What have you been specifically working on to improve in your senior year on the mound?
JS: Number one in terms of a pitching standpoint is developing my changeup and more confidence in that. Trying to work in and out, both sides of the plate. Just trying to stay healthy this season. I had some nagging stuff that bothered me a lot last season. I’d like to end my career at Tech feeling as best as possible. I’ll fight through whatever I need to, but it’s just been cool working with Coach Fecteau on stuff. He knows a lot about pitching and it’s interesting to get his perspective. I’ve definitely done some new things with him that I’ve never done before. I believe in him and I trust him. I’ve really enjoyed working with him.
Q: How do you want people to remember Joey Sullivan when you take off the Virginia Tech jersey for the last time?
JS: I just want them to remember that first and foremost I love Tech. I’m very, very appreciative to be in this opportunity and have the career that I’ve had at Tech and the support I’ve had from everybody here. I want people to remember that I worked hard on and off the field, in the classroom. Really that I just competed as much as possible. Every time that I went out there I gave us the best opportunity to win.