Delaney Girvin, Madison Hershberger and Annalia Paoli have helped put Albert Gallatin softball on the map, and the trio hopes to continue that success at the collegiate level after signing national letters-of-intent to their respective schools on Wednesday at Albert Gallatin Area High School in front of coaches, family and friends.
The arrival of Girvin, Hershberger and Paoli as freshmen helped the Lady Colonials softball program reach unprecedented heights. Albert Gallatin, who was coached by Gary Serock during the trio’s freshmen and sophomore seasons, advanced twice to the WPIAL Class AAAAA semifinals and state playoffs, including a victory in 2018, and won a section title in ’18.
Larry Flowers took over for Serock last season, and despite some tough losses in the early part of the year, Albert Gallatin rallied for a playoff spot and a victory in the first round before losing to eventual state champion Penn-Trafford in the quarterfinals.
“It is great to be here with my teammates and have them sign as well,” Hershberger said. “We have had girls sign before this season, and we hope to have many more after. It is great to see the program turn around and have the kind of success we’ve had. I have been playing with Delaney and Annalia for a long time. All of the seniors have been playing together for a while. We played together on our first rec ball team, and we were undefeated. I think that chemistry really helps going up through the years and makes us a better team.”
“It has been so exciting making the playoffs all three years of my high school career,” Paoli said. “I came in as a freshman not knowing if we were going to make the playoffs, but we had such a great season and we all work very hard. We have accomplished so much the last three years.”
Girvin will not have to travel too far from home, as she will attend California University of Pennsylvania and major in criminology. Girvin plans on playing in the middle infield or outfield for the Vulcans, and is eager to be close to home so her family and friends can attend games.
“I took my first visit and I knew that is where I wanted to go,” said Girvin on her initial impressions of Cal U. “I looked at their academics, and I knew that was the best fit for me. It has always been on the top of my college lists, but I think after that visit and talking to the coaches, I really wanted to go there.
“I would say about a year ago was when I started knowing I wanted to go to Cal. I verbally committed on Aug. 8. The coaches have been very helpful with mental approach to the game. I just need to learn to not think so much and just play ball. I really started to get noticed at the camps at Cal U. It is very flattering to know that they think I can help the program. It is a relief to finally sign and make it official. It is also great to represent my school and community.”
Hershberger had been set on Kent State since verbally committing on Sept. 14, 2017, and she will be a Golden Flash starting next year. She has been accepted into the school of nursing at Kent State and plans to become a pediatric nurse practitioner.
“It is kind of surreal for me,” said Hershberger in regards to signing her national letter-of-intent. “I have been waiting so long, and when I first started the recruiting process, Kent State was always top three on my list, and they ended up showing interest at the last camp I went to, and I stated to realize it could happen. To finally sign makes it seem so real.”
Hershberger has been a strong pitcher for the Lady Colonials, but will play wherever she is needed in college.
“I committed as a utility player for college, so I will play pretty much anywhere,” Hershberger said. “I am just happy to be there and be able to play. If I pitch, I pitch, but whatever is the best fit for the team is fine for me.”
Paoli had an early verbal commitment to the University of Pittsburgh, but she has decided to attend Ohio University and will study education.
“I had originally verbally committed to Pitt very early when I was a freshman, but I was 14 and didn’t know exactly what I wanted,” Paoli said. “I decided to explore my options and found out that Ohio University was what I wanted. I love Ohio University. It is not a huge school or small school. It is right in the middle, and it’s such a good fit for me. It is not in the city, it’s in the country, and that is good for me.
“They also have a really good education program, and I want to be a teacher, so that was the best fit for me. I have already met all the coaches and the girls, and everybody is very nice, so I am excited to be there. My family has supported me all my life, and I know they will continue to in my college career.”
Paoli has been a strong shortstop at Albert Gallatin, and has shown the ability to hit for power. She will most likely play third base in college, but is comfortable with the move.
“They are expecting me to come in freshman year and start at third base,” Paoli said. “I play shortstop in high school, but it is not that big of a transition because I play third base on my travel team. I have played third all my life.”
Girvin, Hershberger and Paoli are excited for their next challenge, but they still want to make some more history in their last year as Lady Colonials.
“We hope to have a great season this year,” Girvin said. “We are very excited about the upcoming season.”
“It is my last year, and I definitely want to win a state title this year,” Hershberger said. “My dad is one of our coaches, but he is not an in-your-face type of guy. He just tells you what you need to know. It is very special to be here with him.”