Hot doesn’t even begin to describe the bat Stephanie Pasquale was wielding.
The junior catcher entered the double-header against St. Bonaventure (5-26, 2-9 Atlantic 10 Conference) with a 13-game hitting streak, but nothing could have indicated what was about to happen.
A few batters after a solo shot by senior centerfielder Ali Robinson in the top of the first Pasquale took the first pitch she saw—a “pop fly and the wind at Ambler helped a little bit”—over the right-centerfield fence for her own solo blast.
But that was just the beginning.
In four at-bats Pasquale saw just four pitches. Homer, single, homer, homer.
“When Steph gets a homerun it’s never just over the fence,” coach Joe DiPietro said. “She doesn’t get cheated when she hits a homerun.”
“Lately in the conference games everyone’s been pitching me first-pitch strikes so I kind of just went up there and if I liked it I swung at it,” Pasquale said.
Her second and third bombs were a three-run shot and two run shot, respectively as she drove in a combined six runs, falling a grand slam shy of the homerun cycle and helping to push the Owls (16-15, 5-1 A-10) to a 16-3 victory. She could have had more if Temple hadn’t mercy-ruled the Bonnies in five innings.
“It’s funny because my dad just told me that [I was a grand slam short] and I had no idea,” Pasquale said.
And she still wasn’t done.
With two runners on in the top of the first in the second game Pasquale drove the third pitch she saw to run for a two-run single, extending her hitting streak to 15 games, one short of her career high. But the nerves started to set in.
“Towards my third at-bat I realized that, ‘Alright, well don’t mess it up,'” Pasquale said.
“It was kind of chill,” Pasquale added about the reactions in the dugout. “No one really said anything I guess because it’s kind of the code where like, if someone’s throwing a perfect game you don’t say anything to them.”
Her remaining at-bats were as follows: first-pitch single, two-run homerun to center (fourth pitch of the at-bat), first-pitch double, first-pitch RBI double. Not a bad encore for the first game.
Pasquale’s final stat line for the day was 9-for-9 with four homeruns, seven runs scored, 11 RBIs, two doubles and just 14 pitches seen.
“If you could bottle it, you bottle that,” DiPietro said. “It was phenomenal. It was a crazy performance.”
“I don’t know if anybody’s had a day like that, that I can remember,” DiPietro added.
Oh, and Temple won the second game 16-7.
Pasquale now has hit safely in 15 games. During that span she’s hitting .591 with an on-base percentage of .636. Pasquale’s knocked in 28 RBIs while scoring 14 runs, with seven doubles and seven homeruns while not being rung up once.
She’s also the single-season leader in doubles (15) and RBIs (47), and is three homeruns from tying the single-season record, despite there being 26 games remaining. She also holds the career mark for RBIs (112) and is just a junior.
As for the rest of the team, the 32-run performance says it all. Pasquale wasn’t the only one to send balls over the fence, as four other Owls did so in the first game and two did in the second. On the day Temple had 10 long-balls, including two apiece from freshman pitcher Kelsey Dominik and junior third baseman Devynne Nelons.
The Owls were the away team despite the games being held at Ambler because bad weather forced the series to be moved a few days in advance. The Bonnies haven’t played a game at home yet this season.
“So you have to take advantage of that, they have to be tired,” DiPietro said. “We really wanted to try to break their will.”
“I credit St. Bonaventure,” DiPietro added. With all the travel they’ve had to do, those kids battled.”
The Owls opened the day with the two solo shots from Robinson and Pasquale in the first. Dominik (7-1), who went four innings in the first game because DiPietro wanted to give some work to freshman Jessica Tolmie, allowed a two-run homerun in the bottom of the frame. She allowed three earned on five hits in total.
But from that point on it was all Temple. A throwing error allowed Nelons to score in the second. Freshman leftfielder Annie Marcopolus followed up with a three-run shot to left center and Dominik helped her own cause with a two-run single a few batters later to make it 8-2.
With the score 8-3 in the third Pasquale sent her second homer of the game over the right field fence. Dominik and Nelons hit back-to-back solo shots shortly after to make it 13-3. An inning later Marcopolus drove in sophomore rightfielder Julia Kastner on a single and Pasquale went yard one last time.
Five Owls had multiple hits as the Bonnies were unable to record a strikeout.
In the second half of the twin bill the Owls started off hot once again. Pasquale drew first blood with her two-run single into right and Dominik, playing first to start the game, took one out of the park to make it a 4-0 ballgame.
After a few quiet innings the Owls turned it on once again. A Marcopolus double in the fourth drove in Nelons. Junior shortstop Sarah Prezioso knocked in two a few batters later with a single up the middle before eventually scoring on Pasquale’s fourth homer of the day.
In the bottom of the fourth the Bonnies finally broke through on sophomore Jessica Mahoney with four straight singles to make it a 9-1 contest. An inning later Temple got three more thanks to a wild pitch that scored Nelons and a two-run single by Robinson.
But the wheels fell off for Mahoney in the bottom of the fifth despite a 12-1 lead. She gave up six more runs before DiPietro was forced to pull her after she allowed a two-run homerun for Kelsey, who finished the last inning and a third.
DiPietro said he was disappointed with Mahoney’s outing, who went five and two-thirds, allowing six earned on nine hits while striking out five.
“We should be able to pitch with the lead, I don’t think she did that very well today,” DiPietro said.
Temple remains at home the rest of the week against conference foes St. Joe’s and Dayton. They’ll be looking to Pasquale to lead the way once again, as she’s done the past 15 games, as they stay in the hunt for the top spot in the conference.
Jake Adams can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @jakeadams520.