Freshman center fielder Ali Robinson has started all 41 games this season and ranks Top 2 on the team in runs scored, hits, home runs and RBIs.
Freshman center fielder Ali Robinson carries a big bat for the Temple softball team and perhaps even more swagger.
The Woodbury, N.J., native steps into the batter’s box at Ambler Field while the song, “Like This” by Kelly Rowland blares, “Told y’all I was going to bump like this, y’all didn’t think that I could bump like this.”
“I expect a lot out of myself,” said Robinson, who said the song represents her personality. “I know I can do things. It’s just a matter of whether or not I do it.”
A starter in all 41 games this season, Robinson said she was able to start developing her skills back in fourth grade, when she began participating in softball travel club teams. She specifically mentioned her Under-18 Pennsbury (Pa.) Gems Gold travel team as a key in her transition to the collegiate level. The softball club team attended college softball recruiting tournaments across the nation, and in 2009, ESPN reported that seven Gems Gold players committed to NCAA Division I teams.
“[In the club league], you go against a lot of girls that we play now,” Robinson said.
Some of those players, for instance, went onto sign with national powerhouses like the University of Tennessee.
Robinson, who was named Atlantic Ten Conference Co-Rookie of the Week in early April, is hitting .269 and leads the team in runs scored with 29. She is also second on the team in hits (32), home runs (four) and RBIs (14). She trails only senior infielder Danielle Fagan in those categories.
Robinson said the “intensity” is the main difference between her high school playing days at Gloucester Catholic High School in New Jersey and the competition she faces in the A-10.
“The pitchers are smarter,” Robinson said. “They know your weaknesses, and they hit their spots.”
One of Robinson’s best hitting performances this season came in a doubleheader against Villanova on April 15. She contributed her fourth home run of the year in the first game and provided two hits, including a double, in Game 2. She finished the series against the Wildcats 3-for-4 with two RBIs. The Owls won Game 1, 2-1, and Game 2, 3-2. They are currently 16-25 overall and 5-7 in the A-10.
“I think she’s finally starting to get it a little bit, what she needs to do to hit college pitching [that is],” coach Joe DiPietro said. “She’s one of the cornerstones we’ll build the team around.”
The Owls matched up against Fordham, a conference team receiving votes in Top 25 national collegiate softball polls, this past Friday and Saturday. Robinson and the offense had a difficult time with sophomore pitcher Jen Mineau, who leads the Rams with a 26-5 record and is second in the nation in strikeouts.
Fordham (39-8 overall, 12-2 A-10) shut out the Owls twice in the recent series. In Game 1, Mineau pitched a no-hitter and struck out 14 batters in the 6-0 victory. In Saturday’s matchup, the Owls had some success – they made contact on some of Mineau’s pitches and generated three hits. They still lost, 7-0.
“I feel like a lot of [teammates], including myself, got ourselves out because we chased pitches,” Robinson said. “But she was good.”
Temple has eight games remaining, all against A-10 opponents. The Owls are currently in seventh in the conference standings. Temple needs to finish in the Top 6 to make the A-10 playoffs.
“I’m just hoping we come together,” Robinson said. “A lot of games go either way, but they haven’t been falling in our favor.”
Temple will try to create some momentum in today’s doubleheader at Saint Joseph’s that begins at 3 p.m.
Connor Showalter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.