Junior pitcher Kristen Marris made her way to Temple after receiving a recommendation from senior shortstop and third baseman Danielle Fagan.
Standout junior pitcher Kristen Marris wasn’t sure where she wanted to play softball after finishing her 2009 season at a junior college. That is until senior shortstop and third baseman Danielle ‘Dani’ Fagan led her to transfer to Temple.
Marris began her collegiate career in 2008 at New Mexico State, where she and Fagan were teammates. Fagan played at Temple her freshman year and started all 44 games, leading the Owls with eight home runs and 29 RBIs to go along with a batting average of .325. She was also selected to the 2007 Atlantic Ten Conference All-Freshman Team. But, she transferred to New Mexico State her sophomore year.
Toward the end of that 2008 season, Marris and Fagan received the opportunity to play against Team USA Softball, as the United States prepared for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. New Mexico State lost, 21-0, but both players gained experience from the matchup.
Marris pitched two scoreless innings versus Team USA and only gave up two hits, while striking out two Olympians. Fagan played the infield and registered two putouts defensively in the game.
“That was one of the coolest things I’ve ever got to do softball-wise,” Marris said. “I was really surprised I got to play in that game and actually did better than the other [pitchers] on my team, so it was a fun experience.”
Fagan decided to return to Temple after two years and planned to play her senior year for the Owls after losing a year of NCAA eligibility. Last year, Marris played for Midland College, Texas, as an outfielder and only pitched occasionally.
“My freshman year, I didn’t feel like everyone is as close as they are here [at Temple] for sure,” Marris said. “Last year, there were a few things wrong with my team. I feel really close to all these girls here. This team I hang out with outside of the field, too, more than I ever have with other teams.”
At the season’s end she agreed to join her old teammate, Fagan, for the 2010 season at Temple.
Coach Joe DiPietro remembers contacting Marris after Fagan told him about her interest in the program.
“[Marris] and ‘Dani’ were very good friends, so they wanted to get back together, and it was kind of an easy thing,” DiPietro said. “We’re thrilled to have [Marris]. She’s a great kid.”
During the course of this year’s non-conference schedule, Marris has started 11 games for the Owls and is the team’s top pitcher with a 5-6 overall record and 58 strikeouts. She also leads the team with a 3.01 ERA in 72 combined innings pitched.
“I feel fine getting to pitch a lot of games,” Marris said of her new role with the Owls. “I just wish I would do better sometimes and stop giving up home runs.”
As for Fagan, she has proven to be a key offensive player, just as she was in her freshman year. She leads this year’s squad in hits (17), doubles (four), RBIs (12) and slugging percentage (.406). The Interboro High School graduate hit her first home run in four years in a close 2-0 home win in the second game of a doubleheader against Drexel last Sunday.
“A lot of times we are only playing one senior, and that’s ‘Dani’ Fagan,” DiPietro said.
The Owls (7-14 overall) have shown flashes of how defensively strong they can be this season. They have a collective fielding percentage of .942 but have also made 34 errors.
“We’ve pretty much had an error in every game that we’ve played,” DiPietro said. “It’s just so much easier for the team to play when you’re not giving people extra bases by committing stupid errors.”
DiPietro was also disappointed in the team’s lack of clutch hitting during the first game against Drexel (4-6 overall), which Temple lost, 2-1, after leading early. The Owls had several chances to score runs but stranded nine baserunners.
“We’re going to have to pitch better,” DiPietro said. “We’re going to have to hit better.”
Freshman pitcher Crystal Nyman has shared the workload with Marris throughout the season by pitching in 10 games. She has posted a 2-8 record with a 6.26 ERA over 47 total innings. The newcomer from Kelso, Wash., pitched her first career complete-game shutout in Game 2 versus Drexel. Nyman allowed seven hits and struck out three in seven innings.
“Crystal took a huge step forward today, and she threw well,” DiPietro said. “She worked ahead of the hitters, and when they work ahead of the hitters, they’re effective.”
DiPietro said he looks forward to holding practice in the final week leading up to the start of the A-10 schedule. The Owls will prepare to face Saint Louis Friday at Ambler.
Connor Showalter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.