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Olivieri pitches PACS to championships

Gina Olivieri celebrates with her parents after winning the Public League championship. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Gina Olivieri was one of the top pitchers in the Public League this year.

That feat is even more impressive when you consider the fact that she’s not a pitcher.

Olivieri is a senior on the Philadelphia Academy Charter softball team, and behind her arm, the Chargers won the Public League championship. But next year, she’s headed to Holy Family, where she’s expected to play shortstop, third base and the outfield.

She might have been happier playing in the infield, but nothing made her happier than when the Chargers won the title.

“I was a pitcher when I was younger, probably like 10, I told my mom I wanted to pitch,” Olivieri said. “I took lessons and liked it, but when I was 12, I moved to shortstop and that’s my favorite spot to play.

“I wanted to be a position player, but when I got to high school, Mr. (softball coach John) Petrie said we needed a pitcher and I used to pitch, so I said I would. I would rather play shortstop, but after this year, I’m really happy I pitched.”

That’s because she led the Chargers to a historic season.

Not only did Philadelphia Academy Charter win the Public League championship, the Chargers went on to win the District 12 Class 3A championship and improved to 14-1 on the year by pounding Sts. Neumann-Goretti 19-5 in five innings last week.

Olivieri pitched and connected with a three-run triple. Carmella Gallagher also hit a bases-loaded triple and Emma Tagliavia belted a grand slam. Jordan Yaletsko scored 5 runs in the victory.

“Sometimes, it’s heartbreaking I can’t get on the field, but I love pitching for this team,” Olivieri said. “They really pick me up, we do it as a team. Everyone has to make sacrifices. It’s not my first choice, but I love our energy, love how we pick each other up.”

This marked the first time in seven years the Chargers won the Public League championship, and for Olivieri, it was the perfect way to go out.

“This was my best year, and our team’s best year,” the Somerton resident said. “My freshman year, we were good and we had I think five or six seniors. I wasn’t the best pitcher in the league, Franklin Towne had a great pitcher and Rush had the best pitcher. I just tried to do what I could to help us win. We lost in the semifinals.

“It felt so good to win this, especially because it’s our senior year. I’ve played with a lot of these girls for four years. It was great that we worked so hard for this and we did it. And it’s good for the younger girls, too, to win. It gives them something to strive for next year.”

This year was the perfect sendoff for Olivieri, who gave up playing basketball prior to her senior year so she could focus on softball.

It’s safe to say when she’s focused, she’s pretty darn good.

“The best part of playing for PACS is definitely the team attitude,” Olivieri said. “I have so much fun with them. I look forward to it all year, playing with the girls. I was with a lot of them for four years. The feeling of winning doesn’t even compare. It was so great just to play, the attitude is great even when we lose. But it’s really special to win with this team.”

She hopes she can bring that magic to college next year.

Olivieri is bound for Holy Family, where she’s projected to play either third base or shortstop. Pitching isn’t in her future and she’s fine with that.

She’s just happy to be a Tiger.

“I played on Sluggersville and a lot of the girls go to Holy Family, and they said they love it,” Olivieri said. “I wanted to play with them. The coach, Coach (Jill) Murray, she was very vocal, I got a great vibe from her. They’re rebuilding now and I want to be a part of their rebuilding. We did it in high school, and I loved it. It’s great when you can see a team get better when you’re playing with them.”

Her softball future is all set. So is her future outside of sports.

Olivieri is very active. Not only is she an athlete, she’s in the National Honor Society and on student council. She’ll bring all those attributes to her nursing career, the same job her mom has.

“Growing up, I was always math and science, I didn’t like other subjects,” said Olivieri, whose mom works at Jefferson Frankford. “My mom is a nurse and I see how much she loves her job. I’ve visited and I want to be part of that environment. She’s a charge nurse. She was a registered nurse, she got promoted. She works on the COVID floor, and was really busy when it was really high.

“I want to be a nurse that works with an anesthesiologist. I like that because it’s math and science. My uncle was one and it really interested me. It will be good to be a part of surgery, but not in on the surgery.”

It’s hard to imagine Olivieri not making a great nurse. Anything she’s been asked to do in her career, she’s done well. She gets that from family.

“My family is definitely my inspiration,” Olivieri said. “My dad always told me from a very young age to be a leader, not a follower and I’ve taken that very seriously. And my mom, both my parents, are great leaders. And we’re really involved in athletics. My brother (Donald) was a great hockey player. He just retired, he was playing semipro. They’ve all helped me so much.

“This year meant a lot. We won the Public League championship and it was fun to beat the Catholic League because everyone says it’s so much better than the Public League. We had a great year. It was a great way to leave.”

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