With the softball team in contention for the Atlantic 10 Conference Championship, it was only a matter of time before some of the teams’ players were honored by the conference for their performances.
Lauren Evans was named A-10 Co-Rookie of the Week for the week of April 6, and the week of March 31.
“I’ve never really achieved anything where everyone’s seen it,” Evans said.
“It was really exciting to see my name up there.”
Evans smacked a grand slam and added a fifth RBI in a 14-4 win over Rhode Island on April 4, after a 3-1 loss in game one of a doubleheader.
Evans also went 4-for-6 with a double and 2 RBI in the doubleheader against visiting Dayton two weekends ago.
The Owls won both games, 8-1 and 3-0.
Evans received the second honor with mixed feelings.
“When I first found out I was really excited about getting it again,” Evans said.
“But I’m trying not to think about it too much because I don’t want to get my head going with stuff like that and then start doing bad and put more pressure on myself.
“I don’t want to have to live up to this the [rest of the season].”
At one point in her career, Evans suffered from a torn rotator cuff and underwent surgery.
As a third baseman, she found it difficult to make the throw to first base.
As a senior at Capistrano Valley High School in Mission Viejo, Cal., Evans made the switch to second base and did relatively well, earning a spot on the First Team All League.
Coming to Temple, Evans found the second base position already filled, but an open spot awaited her at third base.
Evans admits that making the adjustment back to her original position was difficult at first.
But she has improved and is now comfortable making the long throw.
Her teammates also have recognized her improvement.
“It’s good for the team and it’s good for her,” senior Bari Lynn Pflueger said.
“Freshmen can have a rough transition coming into this level.[Evans] has adjusted well.”
Evans is currently batting .295, going 18-61 at the plate with 16 RBI.
Coach Rocci Pignoli describes Evans as “a very coachable person.”
“She’s stepped it up, big time,” Pignoli said.
“She came in here and worked real hard.
She’s just done a great job all around for us.”
Looking to the mound, freshman Vicky Grasham has been a dominating force for the Owls this season, and was honored by the A-10 with the Co-Pitcher of the Week award for the week of April 6.
Grasham pitched seven total innings against the Flyers, striking out eight while giving up no runs on five hits.
“She pitched well [against Dayton],” assistant coach Terri Adams said.
“She hit her spots real well, which she was struggling with in the beginning [of the season].
“If she stays on that pace she’s going to be a big force in the conference tournament.”
No stranger to winning an award, Grasham is excited, but like Evans does not want it to go to her head.
“It’s definitely an honor for me,” Grasham said.
“You’re grateful for it but you can’t say ‘Oh I’m better than everybody else now.'”
Pitcher Kim Watkins knows how valuable an asset Grasham is to have on the team.
“She deserves [the award],” Watkins said.
“She gets us out of a lot of tough situations.”
Back at Salpointe High School in Tucson, Ariz., Grasham earned a trophy case of awards, as well as being named to the Coaches All-Star team, Southern
All-Conference team, Arizona Daily Star All-Southern team, and Second Team All-Arizona.
While appearing cool to her teammates and opponents, Grasham admits that the pressures of being a rookie pitcher have taken their toll.
“It’s nerve-wracking being a freshman and having to prove yourself and live up to other pitcher’s expectations,” Grasham said.
Despite the stress, and an Achilles tendon problem that she has been suffering from most of the season, Grasham’s 7-5 record, 3.37 ERA, and 67 strikeouts speak for themselves.
Steve Papurt can be reached at email@example.com.