The Owls chose to use two starting pitchers with good results.
In the past six games for the softball team, senior pitcher Kristen Marris threw for six-straight complete-game victories, including three shutouts, to help the Owls improve its Atlantic Ten Conference record to 11-3 (20-18 overall).
Currently second in conference standings with two A-10 opponents left on the schedule, the team is looking to secure its first playoff spot since 2007. Coach Joe DiPietro said injuries to the pitching staff have left the squad with just two pitchers in the rotation, Marris and freshman Brooklin White.
“We’ve been doubling up with Kristen for the A-10 games,” DiPietro said. “With the way Kristen’s been pitching and the way we’ve been playing defense, we could beat anyone in this league.”
Marris has started 11 conference games this season, recording only one loss to Dayton on March 20. Thus far, she has pitched 10 complete games, while recording a 1.24 ERA in league play.
Recently, in a two-game series against Saint Louis, Marris (14-8) allowed six hits and struck out seven, as Temple won both games, 9-1, 1-0, on April 21-22. Marris, who leads the team with 41 hits, also added three hits and one RBI in the series.
“I’m pretty happy with how I’ve been doing,” Marris said. “I hope I can keep it up. I want to keep being able to throw as long as I can.”
So far this season, Marris has pitched more than 140 innings and 19 complete games. The lone senior has been able to withstand injuries to her throwing arm and continue to lead the team.
“I’m usually sore for a day, but it’s usually OK I guess,” Marris said.
Meanwhile, White, from Temecula, Calif., has started 12 games for the Owls. Despite a learning curve, she has contributed a 5-8 record with 33 strikeouts and a 7.90 ERA.
“Brooklin is doing OK. She’s a freshman, so she has been learning on the job so to speak,” DiPietro said. “But I think Brook’s future is bright here, I think she’s going to rebound from the ups and downs she’s had this year as a lot of freshmen do.”
White said her adjustment to a more competitive level of softball has been ongoing, but having Marris and the other teammates around has made it “easier.”
“I really just learned to keep working and to not get disappointed and don’t let up,” White said. “Our team gets along really well. [Marris] is taking charge, and I think that’s really cool. I did that in high school, and I came to college, and I see her doing that on a whole new level.”
White hasn’t been able to take the mound since April 2, when she threw in a 6-4 loss against Fordham. DiPietro said much of White’s limited action has been due to rainy conditions, which canceled a total of nine games this month.
“We all know how good she can throw whenever she is on her game, and with the years that she has left, I think that she is going to do really well,” Marris said. “Already, she has pretty good movement on her ball, and I just think that if she takes the time to work on that, it will just get better. I really think she has room to grow.”
Aside from pitching, the Owls’ offense has helped provide run support this season. In conference play, the team has overpowered opponents scoring 73 runs to opponents’ 45, as well as out-hit opponents, 102-69.
“Kristen is really dialed in right now. She’s throwing really well, and she’s not giving up a lot of hits,” DiPietro said. “But obviously, we have to score runs for her, too and play good defense. I think pitching is a really important part of it, and we’re doing all three pretty well right now.”
Temple will now focus on its doubleheader today with St. Joseph’s at 3 p.m. at home. The Hawks (25-13, 7-3 A-10) are holding a fourth-place spot in the conference standings and will be vying for a playoff spot as well.
“I think we just need to keep the same mindset that we’ve had the past few weeks because we have been playing well,” Marris said. “I feel like this year we have everything working together.”
Connor Showalter can be reached at email@example.com.