Sophomore shortstop finds an elevated game after poor start.
It all started with coach Joe DiPietro saying, “Here, I got you a new pair of batting gloves.”
Sophomore shortstop Sarah Prezioso, who earned back-to-back Atlantic Ten Confernence Player of the Week honors for the weeks of March 11 and 18, plans to hold onto those new gloves.
“It sometimes makes me nervous that I need to get a hit,” said Prezioso of A-10 Player of the Week honors. “But it’s built my confidence, especially from the beginning of the year, I’m feeling good.”
Currently Prezioso leads the Owls in multiple statistics, including batting average, reached base streak, as well as multi-hit games and multi-RBI games. Prior to game two of the doubleheader with Wagner on Tuesday, March 27, Prezioso also led the team with a 14-game hitting streak.
It seems as though the Bloomfield, N.J. native is only getting started in the batter’s box this season.
“[Prezioso] got off to a really slow start but she really turned it on,” DiPietro said. “She is much better, more disciplined at the plate.”
The 5-foot 9-inch right hander improved her batting average to .373 after going 4-for-7, adding three RBI and two runs scored in the Owls’ doubleheader sweep of La Salle on Friday, March 30 at Ambler Campus.
But starting the season wasn’t easy for Prezioso, who went a combined 5-for-34 in 12 games before recording her first multi-hit game of the fall against East Tennessee State University on March 10, when she went 2-for-3 with a run scored in the Owls’ 4-3 win.
“At the beginning of this year, I came out to a slow start,” Prezioso said. “I was sort of down on myself but I just tried not to think about it and then I just started getting hits and one hit led to another and another and I felt like I was dominating pitchers, good results came from it.”
Not only does Prezioso perform well at the plate, she also produces in the field. Throughout the doubleheader on Friday, Prezioso made multiple plays to keep the Explorers’ off the bases.
“If you keep them from getting on base, there is no way they can score,” Prezioso said. “We got to continue to keep them off base.”
Prezioso’s overall performance helped the Owls win 4-3 in the first game and 8-0 in the second game against the visiting Explorers to keep Temple undefeated in Atlantic Ten Conference play [16-11, 4-0 A-10].
“She’s really turned it on, she’s seeing the ball much better, in the last three weeks she’s been hitting the ball better than anyone,” DiPietro said.
Prezioso’s ability to boost morale is an asset to the team well, DiPietro added.
“I think her ability to make people laugh, even when she is having a bad day, offensively, defensively, whatever,” DiPietro said. “She doesn’t sulk on the side, she gets right back in there and cheers on the side.”
“She is a little on the goofy side, which is good, I try to encourage our players to be like that, I don’t want them to be tight all the time,” DiPietro added. “I want them to try to be as relaxed as they can.”
In her first season with the Owls, Prezioso started all 45 games and hit .290, although she admits she was not always so confident in her game.
“My freshman year I was extremely nervous, coming from high school it’s completely different,” Prezioso said. “I came here and it went downhill but it makes you understand the game more, it gives you that one year to let it all out and then gives you the start you need to get better.”
DiPietro is excited about the entire squad, which is off to its best conference start since going 4-0 in 2003. Last season the Owls advanced to the A-10 tournament for the first time since 2007, finishing fourth.
“We have a good group of girls, it’s a reflection of the whole program,” DiPietro said. “We’re trying to get the program back to where it was in its so-called glory years and we have the players to do it.”
DiPietro is hoping Prezioso will take more of a leadership role in the future.
“She’s one of our better players, one of our Top 2 or 3 players,” DiPietro said. “When you’re the kind of caliber of player that she is people listen.”
For Prezioso it is all about staying calm and following routine.
“Before I get into the batter’s box, I take two swings before I get in just to feel good, and I always jump over the foul line, I never step over, always hop over,” Prezioso said.
Coeli Danella can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.