An athlete, scholar and leader

String Theory senior Gianna Masci catches a ball low in the dirt in a recent game. Photo/Mark Zimmaro

Gianna Masci has mastered the “mood swing.”

The Philadelphia Performing Arts: String Theory Charter School senior catcher said she sometimes feels the pressures of senior year. And for good reason. She’s a smart student with some important choices on the horizon. But one swing of the bat can make all her worries disappear, at least for a little while.

“It feels pretty good,” Masci said after mashing her first home run of the year on March 20 at Von Colln Field in a 14-0 win over Community Academy Charter School. “I was in a bad mood before this. It really helped me out. It’s been a rough year with senior year, I guess, and thinking about colleges can be stressful.”

Masci, like many of her teammates, is from South Philadelphia and started her Philadelphia Performing Arts Journey on Broad Street in South Philly before eventually progressing to the Vine Street Campus where she now takes classes. The Pennsport resident is eyeing a Division III school where she can play soccer and pursue her love of radiology. 

String Theory’s Gianna Masci unloads a home run to left field in a recent game against Community Academy Charter School. Photo/Mark Zimmaro

“After taking anatomy and physiology, I realized that learning about the body is pretty cool and I’d really love to learn about X-rays,” Masci said. 

She’s well on her way. Masci received the Philadelphia Coaches Association Female Scholar Athlete of the Year for the Public League and will receive a $1,000 scholarship for next year. Masci holds down a 3.9 GPA and is a TV Broadcasting major at her high school. She’s played soccer every year except for sophomore year when the season was canceled by the pandemic and she’s been a rising star on the softball team since joining the team last year. Able to play any position on the diamond, Masci unselfishly suited up in the catcher’s gear this season when the team needed to fill an important vacancy.

“I didn’t really catch last year, but I learned it to help the team out,” Masci said. “But I love having that connection with the pitcher and I have a great relationship with both my pitchers (Danica Divincenzo and Annamae Uhl) so it makes me want to be out there and help them out. We hang out with each other outside of school and I think that’s what allows us to have that connection.”

String Theory players enjoy a fun moment with their coach Joe Dunn after defeating Community Academy Charter School. Photo/Mark Zimmaro

Her leadership made an instant impression on her new coach.

“When I started this year, I quickly found out she was a leader,” said first-year coach Joe Dunn. “She said she would play anywhere. Just put her where I want. She started off as a shortstop and filled in at catcher when a few girls were late following their ring ceremony. She threw out a couple players in the first few innings from catcher. She’s just a great kid.”

Masci also shoots and edits photos for athletic teams at the school and works a part-time job at Chickie’s & Pete’s.

“She’s got so much potential with school and soccer and softball,” Dunn said. “She’s just a leader and does everything we ask. And a lot of times she’s going right to work after practice.”

And her softball actions have become contagious. Through March 26, Masci was batting .400 with five RBIs through the Knights’ perfect 4-0 start. A strong lineup that includes Uhl, Divincenzo, Ava Delfino, Ava Matteao, Joslyn Wimberly and Gianni Bridgandi has produced 49 runs in just four games. And they’ve already matched their win total from last year, when the team went 4-6.

“I think our team has gotten better and stronger and we definitely have a lot more girls (on the team) this year,” Masci said. “I’m really hoping we can make it even further than last year.”

Swing and a miss. Gianna Masci of String Theory hangs on to a third strike in a recent game against Community Academy Charter School. Photo/Mark Zimmaro