Campbell’s McNulla verbally declares her loyalty to Virginia for 2014

Like many high school students, Campbell’s Brittany McNulla has been thinking a lot about where she wants to go to college. After looking at a lot of school’s she made a decision.

She visited close to a dozen schools, liked a lot of them and loved Fordham. In the end she picked the University of Virginia. After visiting its campus and touring the facilities it was an easy choice.

But McNulla won’t be spending the summer collecting furnishings for her dorm room or wondering what it will be like to live away from home in a few months. McNulla is only a sophomore in high school, but she’s an outstanding softball player and she recently gave a verbal commitment to a softball scholarship to play for the Cavaliers.

Academically, she’s been admitted to the Class of 2018 at UVA. All she needs to do is keep her grades up. It shouldn’t be much of a problem. McNulla’s current GPA is 4.04. She recently slam dunked the SATs, scoring a 760 in math and a 1,910 overall.

On the field her averages are pretty high too. The No. 3 hitter for the unbeaten Cougars is currently batting .560. She bats sixth and hits .380 for her other team, the elite Rhode Island Thunder.

On weekends and over the summer, McNulla travels 90 minutes each way to practice with the Thunder and plays in tournaments with them all over the country. And in the tournaments the Thunder compete in, swarms of college softball coaches can be seen behind the back stop.

“Since I’ve started playing for the Thunder, 30 girls have gone to Division I schools,” McNulla said. “The first thing the coaches tell you to do is to write to 20 schools and invite them to come see you play.”

For McNulla, the feedback was instant. She remembers hearing from St. Joseph’s in Philadelphia almost immediately and other schools began contacting her. Because of NCAA rules, the contact was often through a high school or club coach.

But McNulla was able to initiate contact with them. And although “official” visits aren’t allowed with players so young, freshmen and sophomores can still visit schools at their own expense and tour the school with the coaching staff.

And in the summer after her freshman season at Campbell, the tours started, including Virginia, Fordham, Jacksonville, Hofstra, the University of Massachusetts, Central Connecticut and her longest trip, to Southern Illinois.

McNulla fell in love with the campus at Virginia, loved the school’s academic reputation, and liked the very competitive ACC schedule.

“It really is amazing, kids making a decision like that at this age,” Campbell coach Laurie Gatherum said. “To me it comes down to what’s best for her and her family.”

Gatherum likes the fact that she’ll have McNulla behind the plate for two more years.

“She has a great arm, she hits the ball very well,” Gatherum said, “and defensively she’s outstanding. She handles three different pitchers, calls all the pitches, watches the batters and remembers what each of them did in their last at bat. She’s very smart back there.”

McNulla threw out a lot of base runners last spring, but not as many this year. The word got around quickly among Division III coaches that you don’t run on the Campbell catcher.

Some of those coaches probably wish McNulla was packing her bags and heading for Charlottesville, Va., a lot sooner than the fall of 2014.