Jan. 24, 2014

Leading up to the start of the 2014 season on Feb. 8, UND.com will run special feature Q&A’s on each Notre Dame softball class. Check back regularly over the next few weeks to get the inside scoop on your favorite Irish players.

We start off the Getting To Know Irish Softball series with the 2014 Notre Dame freshman class: Dana Bouquet (Santa Maria, Calif.), Rachel Nasland (San Diego, Calif.), Kimmy Sullivan (Greenwood, Ind.) and Karley Wester (Huntington Beach, Calif.).

Bouquet was an all-league and Lee Central Coast Newspapers All-Area selection during her junior season at St. Joseph High School, and was selected to the 2010 Santa Barbara News Press All-County and the Best of the West All-Tournament teams. She is expected to play a utility infield role for the Irish, with a focus at third base.

Nasland was a varsity letterwinner as a pitcher at Torrey Pines High School, and went a combined 54-13 with a 0.70 ERA during her career. She was a 2013 first team all-state selection, and was named the San Diego Section Softball Player of the Year in helping lead the Lady Falcons to a second straight California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) SDS Division I championship title as a senior.

Sullivan won four varsity letters at Center Grove High School, and was a member of four consecutive Metro Interscholastic Conference championship teams. She was a three-time all-state choice and was named to the Indianapolis Star Super Team two times during her career at Center Grove. Sullivan is currently making the transition from third to first base for her first collegiate season.

Wester finished her tenure as a letterwinner at Edison High School with 169 hits, 81 stolen bases and 120 runs scored for the Chargers. She was tabbed to the MaxPreps California Large School All-State team as a senior, was a three-time all-Sunset League first team choice, and is a versatile addition to the Notre Dame outfield.

I had the chance to sit down with the freshman class and get to know more about everyone away from the softball field.

What was your first (fall) semester like at Notre Dame?

Karley Wester: It was definitely a learning experience, adjusting to the college life. We are all doing fine now.

Kimmy Sullivan: It was hard adjusting at first, but then we all did. I feel like we are doing well.

Dana Bouquet: Our teammates really helped the transition.

Your favorite activity away from softball? (*NOTE: Rachel also attested to this later…)

KS: (At the dining hall) you always try to find new menu items, put together new food items to eat. Our main activities kind of revolve around food.

KW: I found out Chicken Parm (at the dining hall) was pretty good. I would also say our late night Reckers runs.

DB: Post-study hall Reckers. What we are actually about to do is play in the snow…

Three of the four freshmen (Dana, Karley and Rachel) are from California, and are experiencing winter for more or less the first time…

KS: They are from California, so snow is new to them. I am from Indiana so I have been showing them the snow. What to do with it, make snowmen and stuff.

KW: Everyone has been saying that it isn’t usually like this (in the winter).

What first introduced you to softball, and what led to the position you currently play?

KW: My dad said I wasn’t going to be a dancer, so I played softball. I have kind of played all around the field, wherever there was a spot that was needed I just went. Outfield just kind of stuck with the last team I was on, they didn’t really have any outfielders. I was like okay I’ll do it.

DB: I started playing t-ball when I was five, and just kind of started playing softball. I used to play at different places, and Coach (Gumpf) said I’m playing third, so I’m at third.

KS: About the same (as Dana), I started playing and never stopped. For me being a corner (infielder), that was sort of the last position I played. I think I played everywhere else and finally someone put me at third. Then I started playing first, so corners really were the last positions I played.

Do you have any pregame or at-bat rituals?

KW: (At the plate) I would have to say just calming everything down, look at my bat in between every pitch to slow everything down.

KS: I don’t really have any rituals, I just take a deep breath before I go into the box and think positive thoughts.

DB: It really helps just smiling with your teammates, having a good time.

*(After finishing practice, Rachel joins the others…)

Any nicknames, especially those given to you by other members of the team?

KW: Kimmy is `Kimmy Gibbler’. She came in as Kimmy Sullivan, but everyone decided they were going to call her Kimmy Gibbler from Full House (90s sitcom) and that kind of stuck. Then that got to `Gibbler’, `Gibby’ and `Gibblee.’ `Gibbs’…

KS: Basically any variation of the name Gibbler, I have been called that. Now one thing I kind of say is, “Hit one for The Gibbler!”

KW: I call Dana `Daner,’ because that’s just fun to say.

KS: For Dana, `Daner,’ `DanBo,’ like her Twitter name, `Dana Bucket’.

DB: People used to call me `Tommy’….

KS: She looks like `Tommy Pickles’ from Rugrats (90s cartoon)…

KW: It was because of how she wore her headband. It made her look her look bald.

KS: This is `Westy,’ just the shortening of her last name.

KW: (Sophomore) Carly Piccinich was like, “I’ve got a gross nickname so you’re getting a gross nickname.” Hers is `Carl’, and she doesn’t like `Carl’, so she called me `Westy’.

KS: There you go. That’s the story. I didn’t really know why.

Other Three: And that’s ‘Rach’ (shortening of Rachel).

What is your favorite place on campus, and why?

Rachel Nasland: Reckers used to be our normal place after study hall…

KW: What about the rec room at North Dining Hall?

KS: Not a lot of people know about the rec room at North Dining Hall, but it’s like a hidden treasure at Notre Dame. You go there, and one time I played Just Dance (the video game) in there, and this week they have cake…

KW: They have a Coke (Freestyle) vending machine in there, where you can pick any kind of flavor…

RN: I would say it’s our `to go’ after practice.

KS: If we are picking somewhere serious I really like The Grotto.

DB: I like the lake, that’s probably my favorite place on campus.

KW: I like walking by The Dome (The Main Building) every day.

KS: Sometimes when you’re just stressed out you just take a walk and stare at the Golden Dome, or go down and light a candle (at The Grotto). It helps you relax.

KW: My dorm is across the main way, so I sort of stop, take a picture of The Dome, send it to my family and keep on going.

KS: Taking artistic pictures of The Dome when there is snow, or the colored leaves. Real artsy.

Are there any interesting facts that someone might not know about you?

KW: I have a metal rod in my shin. I snapped my leg the summer before my junior year and had to get a titanium rod and two screws in my knee and my ankle.

RN: All of us but Gibbler have had surgery (because of sports).

KW: Kimmy was valedictorian. And Rachel’s brother is like a “multi-millionaire” businessman…

RN: My little brother, he does have his own business at 14.

KS: Dana is probably the best singer in America. Actually, it’s probably the opposite…

DB: I am tone deaf, but I like to sing…

KW: We all like it, though.

RN: The fact that three out of the four of us are from California…

KS: I am the lone non-Californian.

KW: It’s actually nine of 17 total on the team are from California.

RN: And we are all either from Central or Southern…

KW: Eight of us are Southern…

DB: I am the most Northern, and I’m not even from that far North. I like to consider it the Central Coast, but it’s more South.

If you could pick one word to describe your class what would it be?

DB: What about fantastic?

KW: Maybe fantabulous? I kind of like dynamic…

DB: Dynamic, something like energetic?

KW: We are definitely a unique group…

KS: A neat group, we’re neat. Describe our class in one word.

(Junior Cassidy Whidden walks by): Quirky…

KW: Actually, that works.

KS: That definitely works, quirky! After much debate it’s quirky.

DB: Thanks to Cassidy Whidden

What goals do you have for your freshmen seasons?

RN: To win the ACC.

KW: To make a name for ourselves.

KS: Bring Notre Dame softball to dominance!

DB: Good job Gibbler.

KW: Really, to just keep it simple and make an impact.

Be sure to check back for the next edition of Getting To Know Irish Softball with the Notre Dame sophomore class. For the latest news and updates on all things Notre Dame softball, follow the Irish @NDsoftball and @NDcoachGumpf on Twitter, and Like the team at Facebook.com/NDSoftball.


— Tony Jones, Media Relations Assistant