In the beginning of her first season as a Temple softball player, freshman catcher Stephanie Pasquale has already made a major impact on the team.
Pasquale is batting .295 with 17 RBIs and 12 runs scored in 25 games so far this year. What makes these stats stand out, and what makes Pasquale stand out, is that she has managed to accomplish these numbers in her first collegiate year.
“She’s off to a really good start,” coach Joe DiPietro said. “She’s a left-handed batter and she’s able to take the ball the other way. She has a pretty good idea of what she wants to do in her at-bats. I think she’s having a solid year so far.”
During what DiPietro classifies as a “disappointing” season for the team, Pasquale ranks in the Top 3 on the team in home runs and RBIs. Pasquale has also proven to align herself in a leadership role in that she has called the game from behind home plate in 25 of the 28 games and hits in the cleanup spot in the lineup.
“For a freshman, she’s handling the catching every game and hitting in the four spot very well,” DiPietro said. “She’s been consistent the whole year, and she gives you a girl with a lot of power.”
Despite Pasquale’s prominence, the Owls have struggled this season. They are 13-15 and are tied for second in the Atlantic Ten Conference with a 4-2 in-conference record. In a large part thanks to Pasquale, the Owls have the No. 1 offense in the A-10, but have struggled with pitching, and their record has suffered as a result.
“Offensively, we’re No. 1, but pitching-wise, we’re next to last,” DiPietro said. “Our pitching really hasn’t done a good job, and it’s cost us.”
While individual success has been habitual throughout Pasquale’s career, the lack of success of her team is something new to her. Pasquale was a four-year letter winner at Pompton Lakes High School in New Jersey. She made it to the state finals her freshman year and was named first team All-State her senior year, when she batted .625 for the season.
“You can’t really think about high school that much,” Pasquale said. “I just took [the success I had in high school] and ran. I gave myself motivation to try even harder to succeed in college. I just want to do what I did in high school in college.”
Pasquale was coached in high school by Karyn Hennessy, who Pasquale says has left an indelible mark on her softball career.
“[Hennessy] helped a lot,” Pasquale said. “She would make sure that, if I made mistakes, she would help me. She would coach her point, but I would have to fix it on my own. So I learned how to take care of things on my own.”
Hennessy coached Pasquale for her four years at Pompton, in which they won two state sectional titles and played in one group final and two county finals.
“[Pasquale] was a key component to the successes of her teams over her four years,” Hennessy said. “She was a natural leader and set a phenomenal example for her teammates. She was a catalyst and tremendous threat at the plate offensively and took complete control of the game behind the plate defensively.”
“Quite honestly, [Pasquale] is one of the finest athletes I have ever coached,” Hennessy added. “Our program is a stronger one because of her contributions. At Pompton, we’re all thrilled to see her success continue at the next level.”
In addition to her individual success, Pasquale has proved in both high school and college to be an intelligent player who is willing to learn.
“[Pasquale] is an extremely coachable athlete,” Hennessy said. “She is an unselfish player who has an incredible passion for the game, as well as for her team. Although a natural athlete, her success has not come without hard work.”
“A lot of these kids come in here, and they have a certain way of doing things, which isn’t necessarily the way we want them to do it. And there’s a little bit of a tug-of-war, so to speak, but not with her,” DiPietro said. “She’s been great. She listens to everything we suggest, and she tries to make those adjustments.”
While transitioning her ability to be coached from high school to college has been seamless, Pasquale admits that softball in college does have its challenges.
“Sometimes it’s a little hard, but I have to get used to it,” Pasquale said. “Every day for three hours you have practice. Then catching every game and making sure that your body is healthy and that you take care of yourself.”
“You have to have motivation to push yourself harder to get better every year,” Pasquale added. “I’m learning.”
The softball team only has one senior and the young players, led by Pasquale, are the ones carrying the team. Pasquale’s contributions to the team will only become more vital in the years to come.
“If she continues to progress and mature as a player and understand the college game a little bit better, the sky’s the limit for her,” DiPietro said. “If she stays healthy, she can be one of the better players Temple’s had.”
“I just have to keep doing what I’m doing now – hitting, catching and talking it up, and just being a good teammate overall,” Pasquale said. “It’s not about an individual. It’s about the team.”