Donaghy caught on as PACS leader

Senior catcher Brianna Donaghy helped lead the Chargers to a great season.

Brianna Donaghy learned to play softball while playing baseball with her brother. Now, she’s starring as Philadelphia Academy Charter’s catcher and top hitter. SOURCE: KAYLA PRZYCHOWICZ

When her career started, Brianna Donaghy was one of the guys.

Donaghy, a senior at Philadelphia Academy Charter, didn’t sign up for softball when she first started playing the sport she loves. Instead, she was playing baseball.

Her brother, Joe, is two years older and when he signed up to play at Liberty Bell, his sister always tagged along. That’s where she learned to play.

“My brother was a catcher, and I always wanted to be better than him,” the Academy Gardens resident said. “That’s really where I learned to hit. I would go out there with the boys. They were all older than me, but I practiced with them. I couldn’t play in games because I was too young, but they always let me practice with them.

“His coach would always help me, give me things to do to get better. I had so much fun. Then after a while, my parents signed me up for softball.”

That proved to be a very wise idea.

Donaghy was the catcher and leader of the Chargers softball team, but that wasn’t a very difficult role. The Chargers had four seniors — Donaghy, shortstop Hannah Higgins, pitcher Alison Kelble and third baseman Madison Madara.

And together they led the Chargers to a great season that included tying for first place during the regular season and a trip to the Public League semifinals. But that’s where the run would end.

Central bested Philadelphia Academy Charter 5–3 in a semifinal, which ended the Chargers’ hopes of bringing home a championship. It was the same day their rivals Franklin Towne Charter lost in the playoffs. The Warriors fell to String Theory Charter 9–7 in the other semifinal.

“We didn’t accomplish our goal, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t have a great season,” Donaghy said. “We had a great year. It was different because the Public League was so good, but I was talking to the other seniors and we’re very proud of what we did this year.”

Donaghy certainly did her part.

On top of being one of the team’s top hitters all season, she provided the team with the leadership it needed.

She was also the top catcher in the Public League, defensively. And that’s something she takes extremely serious.

“I like to hit because that’s how you win games, you have to score runs,” Donaghy said. “But I love playing defense. I love picking a girl off. I love throwing out runners. I love to change the game with my arm.”

Her physical tools made her a great player.

Her knowledge of the game made her an even better player.

“I started calling games when I was 14 and I loved it because it brought a whole new challenge to the game,” Donaghy said. “I love a challenge. Calling the game was a whole new challenge because you have to think about everything. You have to make the best decisions. Ever since I started doing it, I do it for my tournament team and for PACS, I’ve just loved doing it because it’s very important to do it right.”

It helps when she’s on the same page with the pitcher and, with Kelble on the mound, that was never an issue.

In fact, she believes she’ll always be best friends with the other seniors.

“We have been best friends forever, and that’s not going to change,” Donaghy said. “We have been playing together for years now. We played together at the (middle school), too. We all have a bond that will never go away.”

But next year, Donaghy will go away.

She’s bound for Penn State Brandywine, where she’ll continue her softball career. She’s eyeing a career in forensic science.

“My dad is a cop, and I’ve always loved talking with him and trying to figure things out,” Donaghy said. “Just like calling the game. I really want to help people and I want to work in (law enforcement). Forensics is everything. And it’s a very important job. If you mess up, you’re in trouble.

“The school was perfect for me because it’s good softball and it’s a good school. I wanted something where I could focus on both.”

While she’s up there, she’ll certainly miss her Philadelphia Academy Charter teammates.

But she’ll also miss the boy who helped her get her start in softball.

And even though he no longer plays, he still motivates her on the softball field.

“He played here, but he stopped playing after his freshman year,” Donaghy said of her brother. “We’re really close. He works now so he can’t make every game, but when he’s here, it’s a really big deal.

“He’s helped me a lot. I’m not even sure if he knows it, but he still helps me. He’s helped me a lot in every way.”