Kanye West, Roy Jones and Owl City pulse through a small pair of ear buds. So do AC/DC and Fun. Stephanie Pasquale exchanges some texts with her brother. It’s all part of the same routine the catcher has before every game, a routine that has helped her settle into a rhythm the past few weeks.
Pasquale, a junior catcher on the softball team, is in the midst of a nine-game hitting streak, and has reached base in 11 straight games.
“It’s nice, but I haven’t really noticed it,” Pasquale said. “Sometimes it’s better that you haven’t noticed it. I read the [game recap] and it said I was on a nine-game hitting streak and I was like, ‘Oh, wow, really?’ Sometimes if you just roll with it you’re more successful.”
Neither coach nor player knew about the streak until after the win against Charlotte (14-11, 2-2 Atlantic 10 Conference) on March 29. Coach Joe DiPietro said he isn’t surprised, however. His four-hole hitter, who is a left-handed hitter, had a 14-game hitting streak last season.
“She can flat out hit, first of all. She’s a natural hitter,” DiPietro said. “She can take the ball to leftfield, left-centerfield. She’ll pull the ball if you throw her inside. She’s got great power, obviously.”
One of Pasquale’s keys has been her knack for not striking out. Only one pitcher has succeeded thus far this season and few were able to accomplish that feat last year when she struck out just seven times in 138 at bats.
DiPietro said that though it’s impossible for Pasquale to avoid hearing about stats like that, she has managed to keep a level head on her shoulders.
“There’s so much social media nowadays that if they’re fifth hardest strikeout in the country those kids know it,” DiPietro said. “So she started to hear all the things that were said about her, being a tough out, striking out, that she went to the plate being OK with if she didn’t strike out that was OK.”
This season, Pasquale has worked on keeping her thoughts on the game at hand, not on how she’s perceived by her opponents, she said.
“I think I tried to press a lot last year,” Pasquale said. “I think I’ve become a lot more disciplined at the plate, making sure my hands are back, making sure my weight’s back.”
The Owls (11-14, 3-1 A-10) are in the midst of their best stretch thanks in part to Pasquale’s streak. Temple is 5-4 during the streak, coming off five straight wins in games against La Salle, St. Francis, of Loretto, Pa., and Charlotte.
The last time she didn’t reach base was against the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in a 9-3 loss on March 10. The last time she didn’t get a hit was five days later in a 9-0 shutout against Valparaiso. During her hitting streak Pasquale is hitting 14-for-27 with five runs scored, seven RBI, five doubles and two home runs. She’s boosted her average 49 points to .429, all while hitting in the cleanup spot.
“She hits in that four spot because she can do a lot of different things,” DiPietro said. “With her sitting there if you’re the opposing pitcher and you have the bases loaded and she’s coming to the plate…sometimes pitchers they squeeze the ball a little bit more and they make a mistake and she makes them pay.”
Pasquale currently sits second in the conference in batting average among batters with at least 50 at bats. She is also tied for fourth with 33 hits, tied for second with 11 doubles and is fifth with 59 total bases.
“We work out good and with [senior centerfielder Ali Robinson and freshman leftfielder Annie Marcopolus] at the top of the order they’ll get on base for us, and the way it’s been working [junior shortstop Sarah Prezioso] hits one of them in and I get up and hit the other one in,” Pasquale said of hitting behind Prezioso.
DiPietro said the combination of Prezioso and Pasquale in the three and four spots has been critical for both of them and for the team.
“With her and Sarah Prezioso I have two kids that bat one after the other that other coaches don’t want to see come up with runners on base,” DiPietro said.
“Having those two back-to-back is really key to us, we go how they go for the most part,” DiPietro added. “Having [Pasquale] in the middle of the lineup is just awesome for me.”
It’s something the Owls hope to see for the remainder of the season. While the streak may not last into May, DiPietro said he thinks the production won’t wane.
“This is definitely not out of the ordinary for her, she’s definitely capable of doing this the whole year,” DiPietro said
Jake Adams can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @jakeadams520.