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Yough's Sleith, Belle Vernon's Bashada pitch well for local college teams

| Saturday, June 22, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Two area softball standout pitchers played valuable roles in two district colleges winning regular season championships.

Sophomore pitcher Nicole Sleith from Smithton and Yough High School was again the pitching ace as Robert Morris University's women's softball team won a third straight Northeast Conference regular season championship in 2013.

Sleigh went 17-9 overall with a 1.73 ERA. She appeared in 33 games with 22 starts and 19 complete games. The two-year starting southpaw struck out 206 batters in 170.1 innings pitched and also recorded five saves and six shutouts.

She became the first Colonial to receive Northeast Conference Pitcher of the Year honors more than once

One of Sleith's most notable feats this season came March 29 in the Colonials' conference opener when she threw a no-hitter against Mount St. Mary's (Emmetsburg, Md), with 12 strikeouts while facing just one over the minimum.

She also tossed a three-hit shutout with a career-best 14 strikeouts against Ohio Valley Conference regular-season champion Eastern Illinois. She has already moved into the career top five at Robert Morris in both strikeouts (456) and shutouts (11).

Sleith also batted 15 times this past spring with four hits, three runs scored and a double.

Robert Morris finished the 2013 season with a 30-17-1 overall record and won the NEC regular season title with a 16-4 mark.

In 2012 Sleith compiled a 25-11 overall record with a 1.59 ERA and started 33 of 48 games she appeared in.

She struck out 251 batters in 247 innings pitched with 27 complete games and five shutouts. Her freshman season culminated with her becoming just the second student-athlete in NEC history to win both the league's Pitcher of the Year and Rookie of the Year awards in the same season.

A three-time All-State selection in high school, Sleith finished her high school career with a 65-11 overall record and 979 strikeouts. She led Yough to the 2011 WPIAL Class AAA championship, the first in school history. Sleith went 19-2 overall that championship season with three no-hitters, 298 strikeouts and a 0.56 ERA.

Another area starter on Robert Morris' team was junior shortstop Cassie Show from Connellsville High School.

The three-year starter started and played in 47 of the team's 48 games and was second among all individual leaders with six stolen bases. She has missed just one game in three years and heads into her senior season with seven career home runs.

Show has helped the Colonials and 23-year veteran head coach Craig Coleman win 46 of 60 conference games over the past three seasons.

Bashada shines at CalU

Belle Vernon Area High School graduate Haley Bashada enjoyed a successful initial season with California University of Pennsylvania's softball team.

The freshman right-handed pitcher/outfielder compiled a 7-3 overall record with a 1.72 ERA. She made eight starts with two shutouts in 16 appearances and struck out 33 batters in 65 innings pitched.

One of Bashada's shutouts was a complete game four-hitter in a 4-0 win over Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania in the semifinals of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Tournament. She also earned a five-hit, complete-game, 4-1 win over Gannon (Erie, Pa.) in a PSAC Tournament elimination game.

Though used sparingly as a hitter, Bashada hit a grand slam in a 20-4 home PSAC-West victory over Edinboro University of Pennsylvania in early April.

Bashada helped the Vulcans compile a 38-6 overall record, win a fifth consecutive PSAC-West title and advance to the PSAC finals for the first time since 2010. California also made its sixth straight NCAA Division II Tournament appearance and 18th under 20-year head coach Rick Bertagnolli.

In high school, Bashada was a three-time all-section player who earned Pennsylvania Softball Coaches Association Class AAA honorable-mention honors her senior year. She compiled a 17-7 overall record with a 1.50 ERA and 149 strikeouts in 2012 while helping the Leopards win a second straight WPIAL Section 3-AAA title and reach the league semifinals.

Bruce Wald is a freelance writer.

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