Freshman middle infielder Danielle Fagan has had many opportunities this season to prove what she can do.
Her coach and teammates said Fagan, who is midway through her first season with the softball team, has already made a noticeable impact on the team.
Coach Casey Dickson said she sees a lot of potential in the freshman, who splits time between second base and shortstop.
“Just based on how she’s been doing this season, I think she could possibly be newcomer or freshman of the year,” Dickson said. “She’s definitely a standout player. We see great things happening for her as an individual and [as] an athlete in the future.”
A Lester, Pa., native, Fagan has proven herself as a solid player on the field, including this weekend against Massachusetts. Hitting out of the lineup’s five-hole, Fagan was 4-for-7 in Saturday’s doubleheader, which UMass swept.
Fagan’s contributions haven’t just come lately. She ranks first on the team with 16 runs scored and 15 runs batted in. She has started each of the Owls’ 29 games that she has played in and boasts a .316 batting average. She leads the team with four home runs, five doubles and 25 hits.
Despite her strong on-field presence, Fagan said she is not concerned with her own statistics and records. Whatever gets the win, she said.
“Honestly, I just try to help the team. It shouldn’t really matter – your own stats. It matters what the team does,” Fagan said.
Freshman pitcher Ashleigh Porter has been a teammate of Fagan’s for the past five years. The two played together at Interboro High in Prospect Park, Pa. Porter said Fagan always has had a strong approach to the game. And it doesn’t hurt that they can continue their playing careers together at Temple, she said.
“She’s a great teammate,” Porter said. “I think it’s really good that we got a chance to play together again.”
Fagan agreed that having Porter on the team has made the transition from high school softball to college softball a bit easier.
“I was really nervous at first, [but having Ashleigh here] took the pressure off me,” Fagan said.
Aside from her athleticism on the field, Fagan has added something else that the team was in desperate need of: character. That’s what has been most striking, Dickson said.
“Dani has a way of making people smile and getting the girls to loosen up to pass the time,” she said. “I know that’s not an athletic contribution, but when it comes to women’s sports, it’s very important that the team gets along. She’s got a great personality.”
Fagan said she knows the team’s success is a result of how they play together.
“I try to be a team player,” Fagan said. “We’re successful [this season] because we do play well together.”
With five Atlantic Ten Conference doubleheaders remaining on the schedule, the Owls (13-19, 6-4 A-10) have a chance to make an appearance at the A-10 tournament for the first time since 2004. A couple of Fagan’s teammates, and especially the coaching staff, said they are looking to the star freshman infielder to put up similar numbers in the second half.
“Dani, overall, is a phenomenal athlete who works hard and has intensity,” Dickson said. “It doesn’t matter if the bases are loaded or there is nobody on base. She wants to get it done and [she] will get it done.”
The Minutewomen, who are in first in the A-10 standings, beat the Owls 3-1 in Game 1. In Game 2, the Owls fell, 12-7.
The Owls started Game 1 with a run in the second inning. UMass responded with two runs of its own in the fourth and sealed the game with a run at the bottom of the fifth inning.
Through the first five innings of Game 2, the Owls trailed by a run. The Minutewomen then opened up the game with four runs.
Melissa DiPento can be reached at email@example.com.