After losing seven straight games throughout the latter part of March, the softball team has cleaned up its act and has gone on to win 11 straight games, a win-streak which still stands after a tight 2-1 win over Villanova yesterday.
“You hear a lot of things clicking. Our offense has been very strong, our pitching is better, the defense picked it up,” Temple coach Rocci Pignoli said. “We’ve scored a lot of runs (during the win-streak) and we win a tight ballgame like this because of good pitching; we’ve done well.”
The pitching has been sharp the past few weeks for the Owls. Junior pitcher Liz Naughton was named Atlantic 10 Softball Co-Pitcher of the Week after going three straight outings, all resulting in wins. She yielded one earned run and whiffed 22 batters in games against UPenn and Fordham this past week.
Yesterday’s pitcher, junior Bari Lynn Pflueger, has been lighting up batters and pitchers this season and has been the most consistent player. Pflueger broke the Temple softball single-season record for RBIs when she knocked in her 34th RBI of the season in the first inning against Villanova.
On the mound she pitched six and 2/3 shutout innings before giving up an infield hit in the top of the seventh inning, which tied the game 1-1. Pflueger almost watched her solid performance and the team’s 10-game win-streak go down after several miscues in the field.
“Defense and offense … we just have to be a little bit sharper and we’ll be all right,” said Pflueger of what the team needs to be mindful of in the late innings of a game.
At the beginning of the season the team was less sharp after starting with a 7-13 record. There were many questions and a lot of uncertainties early in the season and after continuous losses the team called a meeting. Both players and coaches met to speak their minds and vent on a season that was practically in the books. They listened to each other and the coaching staff to find out how to save the rest of the season.
The result of that meeting has paid off, so far, and since then the team has showed more control, patience and enjoyment when they take to the diamond.
“Out with the old and in with the new. Just play and have fun,” said sophomore outfielder Lynsey Grace on the teams’ new philosophy.
Grace has been a total team player and leads the team in doubles with 11. She also had two important at bats against Villanova. Early in the game she tagged the games only extra base hit. In the bottom of the seventh inning with one out and the bases loaded Grace took one for the team, as she was beaned in her upper left thigh, allowing the game-winning run to walk home.
“I was just looking for whatever would help our team score, just looking for something simple, just a little single,” Grace said.
It wasn’t a single, but a hit-by-pitch is just as good when your team is riding high and sitting in second place of the A-10.
“We’re trying to play together as a team and we know we can win and we believe that we can win and we trust each other,” Pignoli said. “I think that’s important because now they’re going to get into all kinds of situations at the end of the year.
“They’ve experienced it all and I think they’re ready to handle it.”
Chris Silva can be reached at Cbsrican@aol.com