The Owls fell twice to South Florida on Saturday, 8-0 and 3-1.
The Bulls’ star pitcher Sara Nevins started the first game of the day, and the Owls could not get anything going against her. Nevins retired every batter she faced — the second perfect game pitched against Temple this season.
“We were overmatched,” Temple coach Joe DiPietro said. “I mean, that kid’s one of the best pitchers in the country, and she showed why. When you go up against a pitcher of that caliber, you have to have things go your way. You have to create something, at least put some pressure on them. We didn’t do that, so we got what we deserved.”
The Bulls’ hitters had no trouble against Owls’ right-handed sophomore Kelsey Dominik. South Florida used eight hits, including two home runs, to score seven runs off of Dominik, who only lasted 3.2 innings.
“She struggled with her control, which she’s been doing the last couple of weeks,” DiPietro said. “Put us in a hole with the walks, and walking in a run. She’s so much better than what she showed. I don’t know what it is. I really don’t have an answer.”
Junior righty Jessica Mahoney came on in relief and stranded two inherited runners. But in the fifth, a sac fly put the Bulls up 8-0. The game ended due to the eight-run mercy rule after Temple went down in order in the bottom of the frame.
Freshman right-handed pitcher Amanda Gatt started the late game for the Owls and put in a solid performance.
The Bulls were not able to break through offensively until Monica Santos hit a solo home run to lead off the third inning.
In the bottom of the third, with two outs, South Florida starter Erica Nunn walked senior shortstop Sarah Prezioso and sophomore center fielder Annie Marcopolus. Nunn was immediately replaced with Nevins, who struck out sophomore second baseman Leah Lucas to end the threat.
Both teams were quiet for the next few innings. Gatt pounded the lower outside corner against right-handed hitters and the lower inside corner against lefties, and consistently got the strike call.
“I thought Amanda pitched great,” DiPietro said. “We didn’t lose the game because of the pitching, that’s for sure.”
However, the Bulls were able to get on the board again against Gatt in the sixth, scoring twice to go up 3-0.
But in the bottom of the frame, Lucas homered to pull the score to 3-1.
“I hope it proved to them that they can hit [Nevins],” DiPietro said. “[Lucas] hit that one square on the barrel, and it was a nice thing to see. Hopefully tomorrow they’ll come out and prove they can hit her. I thought we had some kids with some good at-bats.”
DiPietro made some changes heading into the seventh inning. He replaced Lucas with senior Kate Roth and replaced Gatt with senior Kylie Kristovich.
The Bulls loaded the bases with one out. But for Senior Day, Roth made a diving catch at second for the second out, and then Kristovich sent the next batter down swinging to end the inning.
The Owls were unable to get any offense going in the seventh, though, and fell for the second time that day, 3-1.
“We played better, just not enough to get over the hump,” DiPietro said. “The way we’ve been going the last month and a half, we’re just a struggling team. Can’t sugar-coat it. Facts are facts. We’re just struggling to do anything right it seems. And it was kind of evident today.”
The Owls will finish off their season on Sunday with two games against the Bulls. The first game is set to start at noon. The late game, slated for two p.m., will not count as an American Athletic conference game.
Don McDermott can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.