Coach Joe DiPietro discusses his outlook on the softball team’s spring season.
The Temple News: What qualifications were you looking for in terms of recruits?
Joe DiPietro: This year we brought in two outfielders, because we have two senior outfielders. These kids hopefully will replace them next year. We also brought in a freshman pitcher. Our ace, Kristen Marris, graduated last year. We needed to replace her. We also brought in a first baseman/outfield, someone who has a little bit of power. I think we addressed areas that we really needed to address to make the team more complete. We have a little more depth than we did previously.
TTN: What are you expecting from redshirt-senior pitcher Capri Catalano this year? Did you bring her to Temple as a transfer to be used as a veteran mentor?[Catalano earned Big East Freshman of the Year honors at the University of South Florida in 2008 after posting a 17-1 record, while also leading the team in strikeouts (177) and saves (six).]
JD: I think with our offense, if we keep [Catalano] healthy, I don’t see why she won’t be very successful here. I think they’ll be able to pick up some things from her, because our other pitchers are young. We have two sophomores and a freshman to go along with her. I think once she is able to go out and throw, and I can see her throw, and how she makes the ball move, I think it will be a plus for them. In addition, she has had experience in the Big East. She pitched against some of the top teams in the country, so she is not going to be intimidated by anyone. They can rely on her to do some of the winning.
TTN: Who are some key impact players that you believe will contribute a great deal this year?
JD: We have a few. I think obviously with the success that Stephanie Pasquale, had last year, Sarah Prezioso, a sophomore shortstop, who I believe has the athletic ability to be one of the best players to ever play here. She’s that good. She hits better than she showed last year. I think that she had a good year last year for a freshman, but I expect huge things from her for the next three years. Ali Robinson, a junior center fielder, is one of our captains. She’ll be a three year starter. She is the voice that you hear in the whole game. She’s into the game the whole time. She’s probably going to lead off for us this year. She runs well. [Marris] was our leadoff hitter last year, and she could also run well. Having [Robinson] there will be a good thing for us. She’s a very good base runner, but needs to hit better. However, she didn’t have a great year offensively. I know that she has it in her.
Samantha Schoell, who plays right field for us, is very underrated. She’s only 5-feettall, but she has the most accurate arm of anyone on our team. People run on her, because she is little, but she throws a lot of people out. We expect good things from her.
Rachel Knable was a first team All-American for the Jewish team last year. She had a good year last season. She is one of our top hitters. I really count on her a lot.
Christina Sykora, a senior left fielder, also had a great year last year. She hit in the 330’s in average. She batted last this past season, which just goes to show you that not all nine-hole hitters are bad. She is one of our two lead off hitters in our lineup. She’s very fast. Having Kayla Cook back healthy is going to be important, too. I think each one of our players of the core group are really being counted on to do well. I expect them all to impact us positively. I think that they have the ability to do that. I don’t really think that we have a weak spot, but we just have to see how it plays out, and how we do when the games start.
TTN: What was your experience last year in the postseason and how are you looking to improve this year?
JD: I think it’s the experience factor. To have a year under their belt, they now know what the [Atlantic Ten Conference] is all about, and we went there last year, and it was all new to all of us, including me. Now that we know what to expect, we know how important it is to be in first or second place in our division, because we can get a bye if you place that high. They know what’s at stake. I think that they have a better understanding of what exactly is expected of them. They know that now that we made it, and we finished fourth is not good enough to please me. We know we can do better, and that simply just doesn’t cut it anymore. It’s time to take the next step.
Samuel Botwinick can be reached at email@example.com.