The Temple Owls swept their doubleheader on Sunday against the Caldwell Cougars, in the Owls’ first tune-up games since moving from the Atlantic 10 Conference to the American Athletic Conference.
In the first game, sophomore pitcher Kelsey Dominik dominated the Cougars’ lineup, pitching three perfect innings. Coach Joe DiPietro has high hopes for her, based on her accomplishments last year.
“She really stepped up last year as a freshman for us,” DiPietro said after the Owls’ 7-2 win. “Without her I don’t think we would have made the A-10 tournament.”
The offense in the game was led by senior shortstop Sarah Prezioso, who hit a two-out grand slam to blow the game open in the third inning. DiPietro said that Prezioso had a bad at-bat in the first, but then made an adjustment “because that’s what really good players do.”
The Owls cruised through most of the game, but the Cougars made it interesting in the sixth inning. They loaded the bases with no outs, and scored two runs in the frame. They had threatened in the fifth, and would make another stand in the seventh, but failed to score either time. The Owls tacked on two more runs in the bottom of the seventh, which was only played for additional practice for the two teams.
Overall, DiPietro said he liked what he saw from his players, considering they had just begun practice recently.
The batting showed improvement in the second game, with batters fighting off tough pitches and driving well-placed hits, although the resulting score was the same. The Owls’ faster pitchers were featured in this game, and looked good. Freshman Amanda Gatt got herself into several jams early on, but only allowed one run through three innings, pitching with speed and precision. Senior Brooklin White gave a solid showing as well, but occasionally lost her command, throwing three wild pitches.
The Temple defense, like the offense, improved as the games went on. The Owls made three errors in the first game, but only one in the second.
DiPietro said it was too soon for him to say how good his team is, especially with nine new players. However, when asked about Temple moving to The American, he sounded confident.
“I know we’re going to compete in the conference,” DiPietro said. “I just know how our kids are. I think it’s going to be a fun conference to compete in.”
In The American, Temple will face opponents such as Louisville, South Florida, and Houston—a big step up for the Owls. In addition, The American plays three-game series, unlike the A-10, which plays doubleheaders. DiPietro said this will make things tough as well. However, he thinks his team is embracing the challenge.
“We’re going to have to come ready to play, every day. I think we have the team to do it, though.”
His team seems to support his optimism. Many of the girls are excited to play some of the better teams in the nation, which they have never faced before.
Although the high caliber of their opponents will be new for Temple, the Owls did face a lot of top ten teams last year; and so DiPietro said his team is more than just excited: they are also prepared.
“We’re not going to be in awe of anyone,” DiPietro said. “I think we’ll surprise some people come the springtime.”
Don McDermott can be reached at email@example.com.