Maggie Gallagher is the girl with the big bat who overcame big odds. Abandoned as a newborn and left in a box along the side of a street in China and pushed around by the boys on her Little League baseball team, the Kennedy Catholic shortstop has dug deep to stand out.
BURIEN — Maggie Gallagher is the girl with the big bat who overcame big odds.
Abandoned as a newborn and left in a box along the side of a street in China and pushed around on the field by the boys on her Little League baseball team, the Kennedy Catholic shortstop has dug deep to stand out as one of Washington’s best prep softball players this season.
“She’s so mentally tough, hardworking, driven, she wants to be the best player on the field in all ways,” said Dino Josie, the Kennedy Catholic coach for 23 years. “She’s the most skilled softball player we’ve ever had here.”
Five Players to Watch
1. Maggie Gallagher, Kennedy Catholic — Batted .719 with 32 RBI as a junior. UW commit.
2. Quinn Breidenbach, Enumclaw — Right-hander won Gatorade softball state player of the year honors after going 15-3 with a .74 ERA. Massachusetts-signee struck out 178 batters in 104 innings.
3. Sydney Taggart, Everett — Finished last season with a 1.84 ERA and 104 strikeouts in 87 innings. Was the most dominant player in WesCo North.
4. Maddie Morgan, Lynnwood — Alabama commit batted .657 with 21 extra base hits, 27 RBI and 33 runs scored last season as a sophomore.
5. Hannah Walker, Lake Washington — Batted .500 with 26 hits and 24 RBI as a junior. Catcher also had 119 putouts and was the KingCo 3A/2A MVP.
Gallagher, a senior, was named a preseason All-American after batting .719 with 34 runs batted in last season. The Washington recruit also plays on the Northwest Bullets club team out of Oregon, which won the TC/USA Nationals and finished 2015-16 ranked No. 16 in the FloSoftball 18-and-under club rankings.
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She hopes to help Kennedy Catholic win the Seamount League title again and get her Lancers into the Class 3A state tournament.
Maggie’s interest in softball started when she was in the second grade. A neighbor gave her a big, red bat when she was 2. She was hooked.
“She started swinging the bat and we were surprised she was doing it so easily,” said Ed. “That thing was way bigger than her.”
She called Seattle’s Mount Baker Park “Daddy’s Park” because of how often her parents took her there to throw her pitches.
She still has that bat in storage.
“I loved that bat,” said Gallagher, who has eight hits and three home runs in three games this season.
The sport holds this family together like glue.
Ed and Mary’s vacations revolve around Maggie’s club and high-school softball trips and Ed pushed his retirement back at Boeing to help Maggie with college costs — UW is awarding her a partial scholarship.
Mary wants to scale back work at St. Therese School once Maggie starts her freshman season with the Huskies.
“I’m so happy I can hardly stand it,” she said with a giggle while thinking about it during one of Maggie’s games. “I’m so excited to watch her play.”
Ed and Mary married in 1998 and decided early to adopt a child. Ed had four children from a previous marriage and Mary wanted a baby girl.
“It’s just a leap of faith, there’s no other way to describe it. But so is having your own child,” said Mary.
The adoption process took a year and a half. In 2000, they traveled to China to bring Maggie back to Seattle.
“It’s a crazy adventure to go over there and all of a sudden you’re a new parent,” said Mary.
Maggie was underweight – 14 pounds as an 18-month old – and had bronchitis.
“When we got the photo of her, she looked like a healthy, chubby little baby but when we got her she was a little bit sick and she was pretty tiny,” said Ed.
Maggie wasn’t walking, either.
The first week proved to be exhausting. There was the 10-hour flight back and Maggie jumping out of her crib at home – “We took that thing out of the house immediately when that happened,” Mary said.
But on day 10, Maggie was walking and running. She gained weight quickly. And Mary got used to being a new mom.
There have been lots of family softball trips – to Colorado, Oregon, California, Florida – sleepovers with friends, school dances, shopping trips to the mall and now, preparing for college.
“She’s kept us young,” both say. Ed is 63 and Mary is 61.
Maggie has always been a hard worker but she’s also known as an encouraging teammate. It’s important to her.
She played baseball up through eighth grade and was the only girl on the team. She was a starter in center field and would often beat them in foot races.
“Some of the guys put me down, wouldn’t play catch with me and that bothered me,” said Maggie. “I never want to treat anyone that way. That experience helped me become a better, more humble person.”
She’s friends with some of her old teammates now, including UW commit Kenny McCormick.
“One of the boys hated me with a passion and last year I asked him why and he said ‘Because you were better than me,’ ” said Maggie. “But you know what, I liked beating out the boys.”
So did the fans.
“We would be at games and Maggie would have all the moms cheering for her once they found out she was a girl,” said Mary.
Maggie hasn’t thought much about why her birth parents gave her up.
“My (birth) parents gave me up for a reason,” she said. “I’ve always felt loved and wanted so I never thought about that much.”