Typically making the switch from junior Brooklin White to freshman Kelsey Dominik has worked this season for coach Joe DiPietro.
But against city rival Penn (25-16, 13-3 Ivy League) the pitching change couldn’t have gone any worse.
White walked the first batter she faced with the game tied 3-3 in the bottom of the fifth inning. DiPietro had seen enough and decided to go to his youngest, but most consistent pitcher, Dominik (10-5).
“We had to do something,” DiPietro said of the decision. “It was just that [White] started to lose it and she walked the leadoff kid that inning, and it was the right decision.
For a few batters it worked out, as the Owls (22-22, 9-5 Atlantic 10 Conference) got two outs in the next three at-bats. But the wheels flew off immediately after. Over the next four batters Dominik coughed up a triple that scored a run, an RBI-single, a two-run homerun, and a solo shot.
Suddenly what was a close game was a blowout for the Quakers.
“She’s been counted on to go in there and get the job done, and she didn’t do it,” DiPietro said. “And it kind of snowballed from there… She just wasn’t good and wasn’t effective.”
Freshman second baseman Leah Lucas slapped an RBI-single in the top of the sixth but that was as close as Temple would get the rest of the game. Dominik gave up three more runs in the bottom half of the frame and the Owls fell 11-4.
Dominik’s final line on the day was two innings, seven hits, eight runs (five earned), no strikeouts and two walks.
The three-four combination of junior third baseman Kayla Dahlerbruch and senior rightfielder Brooke Coloma caused havoc for Temple pitching. The duo combined to go 4-for-7 with four runs scored, one homer and five RBIs.
“Well anybody’s a good hitter when you throw the ball down the middle of the plate,” DiPietro said.
The day started out far better for the Owls than in finished. Temple was trying to rebound off a double-header split Tuesday at the hands of Villanova and did just that to start.
After two quick outs in the top of the first inning, junior shortstop Sarah Prezioso singled to right. Junior catcher Stephanie Pasquale played the textbook four-hole hitter, launching a pitch to leftfield for a two-run shot.
White started out hot, retiring the first eight batters she faced before surrendering a harmless single in the third. In the fourth she had a little trouble, giving up a two-run homer to Coloma and surrendering another run on a sacrifice fly to right that also got the final two outs of the inning, but not before Penn took a 3-2 lead.
White went 4-plus innings, giving up four hits, three earned and striking out two while walking two.
In the top of the fifth Prezioso tied the game with a double that scored freshman leftfielder Annie Marcopolus. But the Owls would never lead again.
The three-four-five combo of Prezioso, Pasquale and senior centerfielder Ali Robinson did their job at the plate. The trio combine for a line of 5-for-11 with three runs scored and three RBIs. Lucas also recorded two hits, as the Owls got eight on the day.
But DiPietro had no answer after the game for why the offense has struggled to score runs of late. One of the hottest offenses in the conference a few weeks ago has suddenly cooled, averaging a pedestrian 3.57 runs over the past seven games.
“When you’re undisciplined and you swing at pitches that aren’t strikes, I don’t care how good your offense is, you’re not going to be productive,” DiPietro said. “The last week they’ve been very undisciplined and they’re swinging at a lot of bad pitches.”
“You’re always going to have a couple kids who are going to swing at bad pitches, but when it starts to be the majority of them there’s really nothing as a coach you can do anymore,” DiPietro added. “We’ve played 44 games, at this point you have to know what a strike is and what isn’t.”
But it wasn’t enough and the Owls dropped their second game in two days. DiPietro said after the Villanova game that he hoped playing Penn would be a good confidence booster heading into a four-game A-10 weekend. But the plans seem to have backfired.
Now the Owls find themselves backing into what could be a critical weekend, with games against Rhode Island and Massachusetts coming up, especially if they can’t get consistent production from their pitchers and at the plate.
“This is a huge weekend for us,” DiPietro said. “I don’t think we can come out of this weekend 2-2 and be in a good position for the A-10 Tournament.”