On April 15 at Ambler Stadium, there will be an unofficial class reunion for Temecula Valley High School.
Temple senior right-hander Brooklin White and freshman outfielder Toni Santos will face fellow Californian and Temecula Valley graduate Natalia Segovia in the Owls’ doubleheader against Villanova.
“It’s fun to have a little piece of home,” White said.
White and Santos have been enjoying “a little piece of home” since last fall, when Santos joined White at Temple. Santos was originally committed to a university in California, but decommitted because of a coaching change. Between White and coach Joe DiPietro, Santos was convinced to come to Temple.
“It helped recruiting Toni with Brooklin being here, because Toni’s parents were able to talk to Brook’s dad about her experience here,” DiPietro said. “And it was all positive, so that helped me get her here.”
“Brook told me how much fun this place is, the team chemistry, the coach, everything,” Santos said. “How much she loved it, and that it would be a good fit for me, as long as I wanted to go away.”
Now at Temple, White and Santos are very close – even closer than they were in high school, Santos said.
“We’re so similar,” Santos said. “We were talking about this [a little while ago], just the things we like. Things that we don’t even set up or talk about, we’ll end up doing the same thing and then we’ll find out it about later. We flow. We’re kind of the same person.”
White came to Temple in 2010 after a solid high school career with the Golden Bears.
“I was really dominant in high school in California, and I think I kind of expected to do really well when I got here,” White said. “And I think that hurt me in my freshman year. I didn’t realize how good Division I softball was.”
White’s sophomore season was her most successful year with the Owls. That year, she won 14 games and posted a 3.36 ERA. White struck out 98 batters, which placed her eighth on Temple’s single-season strikeout list.
Although she did not achieve the same level of success in her other seasons – this year she holds a team-worst 6.00 ERA – White said she has no complaints.
“I work really hard,” White said. “I just have to let the expectations go. I haven’t performed as well as I would have liked, but I can’t complain about my effort.”
DiPietro said White’s off-field attitude is what he likes to see in a student-athlete.
“She’s got herself into everything, which is great,” DiPietro said. “That’s what you want out of a college kid. You don’t want them to just be a softball player and student.”
“She was just someone I looked up to because of her work ethic,” Santos said.
When Santos joined Temple, DiPietro discovered Santos had many of White’s positive characteristics. In her rookie year, Santos ranks fifth on the team in hits and first among team starters in batting average against conference opponents.
“Toni is a sweetheart of a kid,” DiPietro said. “Very polite. Hard worker. And the girls love her. She’s a good teammate.”
“Whether she’s going good or not, she always has that same expression on her face,” DiPietro added. “She’s always upbeat. There’s too many players who, when things are going good, they’re all smiles – and when things aren’t going good, they’re all frowns. And she’s not like that.”
White’s collegiate career is quickly coming to an end, with less than a month of competition scheduled for the team. After the Board of Trustees voted last December to cut the softball program after this season, Santos will soon be faced with choosing whether to continue her studies at Temple or continue her softball career somewhere else. She and others on the team maintain that they are focused on the season at hand and will make those decisions after the final game.
Regardless of the future, however, Santos and White said they have enjoyed their time together – both at Temecula Valley and Temple.
“It’s been really fun,” White said. “We’re able to talk to each other if things are going wrong. It’s just nice to have that relationship. It’s nice to have somebody from home here, so they can relate.”
Don McDermott can be reached at email@example.com.