Sports

A ‘better opportunity’ at Temple

Leaving La Salle to coach the Owls, Joe DiPietro has high expectations for his team this season. In fact, he expects nothing short of a playoff berth.

After spending six seasons as La Salle’s softball coach, Joe DiPietro will take over the program at Temple this season.

During those six seasons, DiPietro amassed 77 wins. His highest total was last season with 22.

The decision to travel south was an easy one for DiPietro, who simply said he has a better chance of winning with the Owls than he did with the Explorers.

“There are better opportunities [at Temple]. The facilities are better. The scholarship situation is better,” DiPietro said. “We have more scholarship money here than we did at La Salle. It is a lot easier for me to recruit higher-end players. It was just an easy decision for me.”

DiPietro’s immediate impression of his new team was not only positive but analytical because he coached against them.

“I had a very positive impression initially,” DiPietro said. “I didn’t think their problems last year were talent-based, I just thought that there was a lot of internal things going on that caused them to have a down year.”

Senior first baseman Courtney Norene favors the addition of DiPietro as coach.

“I think … what we haven’t had in a couple of years is that he is able to work with multiple and different types of personalities and attitudes,” she said. “He has what we need to win a ballgame.”

DiPietro had mixed feelings about leaving La Salle.

On one hand, he enjoyed his time on 20th Street and Olney Avenue, but on the other, he knew it was going to be difficult to compete at a high level.

Joe DiPietro talks to freshman pitcher/first baseman Lauren Spoo last week during team practice at Pearson Hall. DiPietro left La Salle after six years to coach the Owls (Nic Lukehart/TTN).

“[My feelings are] a little mixed,” he said. “I loved it at La Salle. They treated me great. The players were awesome. They did everything I asked them to do. [However, it] wasn’t a great opportunity.”

With that, DiPietro’s former team also had mixed feelings on his departure.

“They were disappointed. I am very close to my players. I kind of developed that relationship,” DiPietro said. “They understood why I was coming here. Not just the scholarship money, but this is a full-time position.”

While DiPietro will be missed by his former team, his new team has embraced him.

“They seemed in favor of [me becoming the new coach],” DiPietro said. “I haven’t heard anything in the contrary.”

That appears to be the case, as the players seem welcoming toward their new coach.

“I think that it is very good for the program,” junior catcher Krystle Metzler said. “He brings a lot of energy to our program and a lot of knowledge. I am very excited about this season.”

That mentality has also extended to the incoming freshmen, who, as a group, are getting their first dose of collegiate softball.

“I think he is a great guy,” freshman shortstop Jess Hirschbuhl said. “He is easy to talk to and is easy to get along with. He is tough, but at the same time, he is laid back, and I have enjoyed it so far.”

But so far, the Owls have just been practicing. They haven’t been playing games, and when that begins, perhaps DiPietro will have an eye on March 22, the date he returns to La Salle for a doubleheader against the Explorers.

“I gained a lot having coached against them,” DiPietro said. “I knew what kind of players they had. I knew what their strengths and weaknesses were versus a coach that didn’t know anything about the [Atlantic Ten Conference]. I had that knowledge being in the league six years, and I kind of knew everyone.”

And that knowledge will stick with DiPietro, who, even though he is beginning a new trek on a new team, doesn’t plan to denounce his methods.

“I’m not going to change any as a coach,” he said. “I’m going to do things the same way I have always done them. We have a different athlete here than we had at La Salle. Hopefully we’ll be able to win more and get back into the A-10 playoffs.”

And those A-10 playoffs are all the focus for DiPietro and the Owls.

“I think we have a chance to be very good,” he said. “If we are not in the playoffs, it’s going to be a disappointment.”

Nick Hollenstein can be reached at n.hollenstein@temple.edu.

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