The softball team will not start competing in the American Athletic Conference until next spring, but work is already underway to build the team into a contender.
Returning players are improving their form from last year and incoming players are adjusting to the superior level of play and getting comfortable with new teammates.
Senior catcher/first baseman Stephanie Pasquale said the team has always worked well together and this year is no different.
“We’re like a big family,” Pasquale said. “We’re all a bunch of little sisters together.”
“We get along so well,” sophomore Annie Marcopolus said. “We did last year as well, and all our freshmen and transfers this year are awesome. We all love each other.”
As a sophomore, Marcopolus plays a key role in the present and future of the club. She’s a veteran player who understands coach Joe DiPietro’s style of play. But she still has three years to go with the team – and she intends to make the most of it.
“I just want to be the best team player I can,” Marcopolus said.
However, much of the team’s success will ride on the performance of the nine newest Owls, including freshmen Amanda Gatt, Angelique Santos and Jessica Haug.
Gatt, a pitcher, said she’s confident in her abilities and enthusiastic about joining the team for their move to The American.
“It’s really exciting, because it’s a new step for all of us,” Gatt said. “And we’re all going through it together, and playing all the new competition, and we have a lot of talent, so I’m excited.”
Gatt sees the team chemistry from a different perspective than Marcopolus and Pasquale, but her verdict is the same.
“They’re all very welcoming and they’ve made it a lot easier for us to come in here, even though we’re the new kids,” Gatt said.
Santos, a speedy outfielder, has a unique story on how she came to Temple. Santos was originally committed to a university in her home state of California. But after a coaching change, she decided to withdraw, because she felt a lack of support from the new regime.
“Then [DiPietro] showed up at my games probably two months later,” Santos said. “At that time my confidence was low and I was like ‘Okay, it’s my senior year and I don’t have anything straightened out.’ And [DiPietro] came to 15 of my games, and one game I asked my coach, ‘Who is that? He’s at every one of our games.’ And she’s like, ‘Oh, he’s been here, watching you.’ So I got all excited, and I talked with him after a tournament, and I [verbally committed] a month later.”
Haug, who walked onto the team earlier in the summer, was a two-sport athlete in high school, excelling at softball and soccer. She said it was hard to decide which sport to play at Temple.
“Throughout high school I loved playing [both],” Haug said, “And I couldn’t decide. And then throughout the summer I had to make a decision, and I ended up picking softball.”
Haug said the move from high school to college was difficult.
“It’s a lot different,” Haug said. “You have to put in a lot more work. But it’s still the same idea, like going to practice, being with people you want to be around, having good coaches, just always wanting to get better.”
The Owls hope their new players can step up with the veterans and get them past their tough opponents. The team is feeling confident.
“I think our hardest competition is going to be [South Florida], Houston and Louisville,” Pasquale said. “And even when we played Louisville last year, they weren’t really that great.”
DiPietro expects his new players to fit in well with his regulars.
“We have nine new faces,” DiPietro said. “But the good thing is, they can all play. So with the kids we have coming back, and the addition of the new players, I think we’re going to be really strong in the spring.”
Don McDermott can be reached at email@example.com.