Carmella Gallagher admits she was a little nervous.
Gallagher is the starting sophomore shortstop of the Philadelphia Academy Charter High School softball team. And the Chargers had a great year, winning all but one game this year in the Public League.
The bad news was their lone setback was to always-dominant Franklin Towne Charter, and when the Chargers qualified for the championship game, they drew the Coyotes, who beat them by nine runs the first time they met.
“Honestly, I didn’t really expect to win because we lost 11-2, so I was a little worried,” Gallagher said.
Those worries have been put to rest.
Philadelphia Academy Charter defeated Franklin Towne Charter 14-13 on Thursday to win the Public League softball championship. Next up for the Chargers is a date in the District 12 Class AA championship where they’ll meet Neumann-Goretti on Wednesday at Cardinal O’Hara. After that, they’ll head for the state tournament beginning June 6.
“Winning the Public League championship was so big for us and the school, really,” said Gallagher, who lives in Pennypack. “It was only the second time we won the championship and we didn’t win it for a while. Franklin Towne is a very good team. When we got the final out on a great tag (by Chargers freshman first baseman Casey Pasco), it was so exciting. This was really big for everyone.”
Pasco and Gallagher, who went 2-for-5, were among the lengthy list of heroes for the Chargers.
The leader of the team, senior Gina Olivieri, was named the championship game MVP. She was the winning pitcher and also belted a home run.
Things didn’t get off to a great start for the Chargers after surrendering four runs in the first, and four more in the second, which gave the Coyotes an 8-6 lead after an inning and a half. But the Chargers piled up seven runs in the fourth to take a commanding lead, a lead they would never surrender.
It wasn’t a good game for the faint of heart, but Gallagher and her Philadelphia Academy Charter teammates had the time of their lives.
“It wasn’t bad, it was fun, I had a lot of fun,” said Gallagher, who said her grandparents and parents are her biggest supporters. “They’re a very good team, so it meant a lot to beat them. The whole game was fun and winning was amazing.”
Gallagher has been a softball player since she was 4. It’s her favorite sport and the one she’s best at. She plays it all summer with the Nightmare Fastpitch softball team. But she’s an all-around athlete, too.
In the fall, she’s a midfielder on the Chargers soccer team, which advanced to the semifinals last year before falling to Central.
In the winter, she’s a point guard and small forward on Philadelphia Academy Charter’s basketball team. The Chargers qualified for the postseason this year, but lost in the first round of the playoffs.
“Softball is my main sport, it’s the one I spend the most time on,” Gallagher said. “I play basketball mostly for fun and in the fall, soccer is just for fun. But we had good teams in both, so I have fun playing those sports. I love basketball and soccer, but there’s not as much pressure in those sports.”
Gallagher knows very well about how stressful softball can be. When she first played, she was a pitcher, and was very good. But when she got to club ball, she decided to switch positions and she ended up at shortstop. That’s probably why she had so much respect for Olivieri’s performance in the championship game and throughout the season.
“Gina did great for us, she threw every pitch this year, and is a great leader,” Gallagher said. “She’s a really good leader, she pumps everyone up, gives the team talks. I’ve learned a lot from watching her.”
And next year she’ll likely have to put what she learned into action because Olivieri is bound for Holy Family in the fall. There likely won’t be a void long in the leadership department for the Chargers.
“I’ve learned a lot and I’ve tried to be a good leader this year,” Gallagher said. “Gina is our leader, but we had some girls who never played softball before, really, and I would try to help them. I like seeing people get better, and I like helping them.”
It goes beyond the field, too.
Gallagher is a member of the community service corps and also on student council. She was also recently inducted into the National Honor Society, and is a first-honors student.
“I love being a leader and helping people,” Gallagher said. “I hope to run for president my senior year. And I think that will help me be a better captain, too. You use the same (skills).”
But this will be after she leads the Chargers in the rest of the postseason.
“District 12 tournament will be great and then states,” Gallagher said. “It’s fun playing because we always play the same teams, so it’s fun to go see the other teams.”