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Gangi hits milestone

by Matthew Ondesko, Owner

Photos: Williamsville South High School

Records are made to be broken, and milestones are made to be reached.

While athletes may sit there and tell you they don’t play the game to reach certain milestone, or break records, most of them are lying. Athletes play the game to be the best there is in that sport.

Williamsville South High School pitcher Giavanna Gangi is one of the best players in Western New York. She has been dominating the circle since she stepped foot on the varsity for the Billies four years ago.

This season, Gangi hit a milestone that most high school pitchers will never see in WNY, mostly because of the weather and the lack of games being played in the area. But, here she was, one strikeout away from reaching 300 for her career.

A milestone achievement that no one though would happen, considering Gangi, and her teammates, missed an entire season due to Covid.

“Reaching 300 career strikeouts was very exciting, especially because I had no idea I was close to that milestone,” stated Gangi. “It was a surprise when Coach Murphy told us all after the game. I didn’t realize I would be able to achieve a milestone like that considering I joined the varsity team in my 9th grade year, however we did not have a season that year because of Covid, and the following season had a shortened schedule. I definitely feel proud to have made the accomplishment in a short time.”

To get to 300 strikeouts a pitcher needs to be on her game day in and day out. She needs to be focused every single at bat. Every time Gangi stepped inside the circle she was on her game, and gave her team a chance to win.

The funny thing about all the these strikeouts is that Gangi doesn’t toe the rubber thinking she is going to strikeout everyone she faces. She just goes out there and plays as hard as she can, and hopes she can help the team win.

“Being on the mound with my team behind me is one of my absolute favorite things. One goal I have for myself each game is to work as hard as I can and trust my team to pick me up when I make mistakes,” stated Gangi. “I know that they’re working just as hard behind me and I can count on them to have my back. Knowing that makes it easier to put less pressure on myself and stay focused for each play.”

Mistakes will happen on the mound. Gangi knows to be at her best she needs to forget if she makes a mistake that leads to runs. Being able to step up, and battle, when she might not be at her best is what makes Gangi the type of pitcher she it.

Some pitchers will have a bad inning, and it might snowball for the rest of the game. If Gangi lets up a big hit, she jet buckles down and goes after the next batter.

“The mental aspect of pitching is huge. I’ve always been an over-thinker, so trying to set that part of myself aside when I step on the mound isn’t always easy,” stated Gangi. “One thing I do to try is stay in the moment and take it pitch by pitch. That makes it easier to shake off mistakes and keep going on with the rest of the game, not worrying about previous plays.”

Gangi also has a hitters mentality, because she is a hitter. She knows when a hitter comes to the plate they have a certain game plan on how to attach the pitcher. Because Gangi is a hitter, she know how to attack them when she’s on the mound.

If she is ahead in the count, Gangi isn’t going to give them anything good to hit. She will do what most pitchers do and waste a pitch, see if they will chase it.

“Knowing a hitter’s mentality when I’m on the mound can be super helpful. A lot of good hitters come to the plate with a plan, so having an idea of what pitches they’ll go after and when in the count they’ll swing can be crucial as a pitcher,” stated Gangi. “For example, If I’m farther ahead in the count, I don’t like to throw too good of a pitch because I know they’ll be going after anything in the strike zone.”

With star status comes a different responsibility. There is a lot of pressure being a star of a team. All eyes are on you every time you go to the mound. Gangi doesn’t see it that way. She sees softball as more of a team game, not an individual sport.

Because Gangi sees it that way, the pressure for her to perform is not as bad as it might be for other players. She knows as a pitcher, Gangi sets the tone out there. She also knows she has a great team behind her to pick her up if it doesn’t go well.

“Softball is very much a team sport, and the mental side of things is often a bigger part than the physical. Having such a close team is important because when we trust each other off the field, that’s when we really see how well we work together on the field,” stated Gangi. “I appreciate how much time and effort Coach Murphy puts into building our team off the field, because it really makes a huge difference in the game. I don’t think any game comes down to how well one person does. It can be easy to put more pressure on myself because as the pitcher I set the tone, but I know that if I work hard and have a good attitude my team will be right there behind me, backing me up at every play.”

For as great as she is on the mound, that’s just as good a person she is off it. Gangi has been huge in the community during her time with the softball team. She has made her goal to give back in the community as much as she can during her four year career with the Billies.

“I believe that giving back to my community is so important. I have so much gratitude to my parents for affording me a life where I can accomplish anything I set my mind to, and they’ll always be there supporting me,” stated Gangi. “From a young age they taught me how important it is to give back and brought me to volunteer at places in our community. These experiences have shown me how lucky I am, and I think If you have the ability to help make someone else’s life a little brighter it makes you appreciate your own life a little more.”

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