Temple sent 21 batters to the plate against Towson pitcher Missy McCormick in Wednesday’s early game.
Not one of them reached base.
But coach Joe DiPietro was not searching for answers after the 7-0 loss.
“We’re missing a ton of people,” DiPietro said. “We had five starters not in there today. I wasn’t expecting a perfect game thrown against us, but the girl was good and she pitched a good game. But we’re missing a lot of people.”
Senior catcher/first baseman Stephanie Pasquale, who broke a finger on March 4, was still inactive against Towson. Senior third baseman Devynne Nelons, freshman outfielder Toni Santos and senior pitcher/first baseman Brooklin White were all out with the flu. Junior outfielder Lacey McKeon had returned this past weekend against Memphis after suffering a concussion on March 4, but DiPietro sat her for the Towson doubleheader because of recurring concussion symptoms.
With so many starters out, DiPietro was forced to start players who usually don’t see much game time.
“You’re asking people to perform against a quality pitcher when they haven’t played much at all,” DiPietro said. “It’s unrealistic to expect them to do anything.”
The Owls struggled on the pitching side as well. Right-handed junior Jessica Mahoney gave up seven runs, five earned, on seven hits in three innings of work, before DiPietro replaced her with senior righty Kylie Kristovich, for her fourth appearance this season. Kristovich was effective against the Tigers, giving up one hit in three innings.
But Kristovich’s performance was the only bright spot for the Owls in the first game, as they fell by seven runs. Mahoney was charged with the loss, giving her a record of 1-7 on the season. Her ERA stands at 4.46.
“Our pitching wasn’t good the first game, and besides, we made a couple of errors,” DiPietro said. “So we just weren’t good all-around in the first game.”
Before the second game began, the Owls lost another player. Freshman infielder Jessica Haug, who, like McKeon, had returned against Memphis after being out since March 7 with a concussion, was scratched from the lineup after she began experiencing concussion symptoms after playing the first game. She was replaced at second base by senior outfielder Kate Roth, who was making one of her first career starts, DiPietro said.
Other than Roth, the starting lineup was the same as that of the first game, and so were the early results. The Tigers got off to a quick start, taking advantage of an error by Temple’s freshman catcher, Kaylyn Zierke, to score two unearned runs in the first inning.
Towson extended its lead in the bottom of the third inning, when Maureen Hepner hit a two-run home run to put Towson up 4-0.
“We didn’t get off to a good start in the second game, either,” DiPietro said. “And [then] I put a bunch of different people in.”
Temple and Towson each scored a run in the fourth inning. In the bottom of the frame, sophomore Kelsey Dominik, the Owls’ starting right-hander, moved to first base to replace sophomore Jess Mower. Right-handed freshman Amanda Gatt came in to pitch for Dominik.
Then, in the bottom of the fifth, Temple made more changes. Freshman second baseman/third baseman Cassidy Trause replaced sophomore second baseman Leah Lucas, and sophomore Gina Pellechio was pulled from left field in favor of Kristovich.
When Temple came up in the top of the sixth, the team was down 5-1.
Junior right fielder Julia Kastner singled to lead off the inning. She was followed by Kristovich, who hit her first collegiate single. Gatt came up next, and in her first career at-bat knocked a single to load the bases. Roth then hit the fourth straight single for the Owls to drive in a run.
Towson pulled their starting pitcher, and replaced her with McCormick, who had pitched the early game. But McCormick was not as sharp in her second appearance against the Owls. She walked the first batter she faced, Sarah Prezioso, which forced in another run.
After a fly out, Trause came up for her first collegiate at-bat, and hit a 2-RBI single to tie the game at 5-5.
“We got some production from some people that we normally wouldn’t get anything from,” DiPietro said. “Kylie is a pitcher, [but] because we were so short-handed, halfway through I put her in the outfield. Cassidy’s been out since September with some different ailments and stuff, and I just told her to suit up today, and she ended up getting a single up the middle that scored two runs. And that was her first college hit. So we had some kids getting their first hits today, and they all got it in the same inning.”
“So I was going to reward them,” DiPietro added. “If we were going to lose, we were going to lose with them on the field. And if we were going to win, I wasn’t going to take them out. They were the reason we got back in the game in the first place.”
Towson went down in order in the bottom of the sixth, and Temple did the same in the top of the seventh. In the bottom of that frame, the Tigers put runners on first and second with two outs. DiPietro put Dominik in again at pitcher, and placed Gatt at first base. The next batter lined out to Dominik, and the game went to extra innings.
In the eighth, Prezioso singled with one out and then stole second, advancing to third on the throw. Marcopolus, the next batter up, reached on an error, and Prezioso came home to put the Owls ahead, 6-5
Towson was unable to advance past first base in the bottom of the eighth, and the Owls secured the comeback win.
DiPietro was happy his players got the win, but the injuries and illnesses of his starters is still concerning for the team, he said.
“We have a lot of stuff going through the team right now,” DiPietro said. “So hopefully we’ll be able to get them back healthy for the weekend, and we’ll see where we’re at. If not, we’re just going to do the same thing we did today, and hope it’s good enough.”
Up next, the Owls will play a three-game series against American Athletic Conference opponent Rutgers. The two teams will play a doubleheader on Saturday, with the first game at noon and the second game immediately following. Sunday’s game will start at noon as well.
Don McDermott can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.