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Yough, Connellsville grads make big impact for RMU softball

SUBMITTED - Yough High graduate Nicole Sleith won 14 games for the Robert Morris softball team with seven shutouts and 179 strikeouts.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>SUBMITTED</em></div>Yough High graduate Nicole Sleith won 14 games for the Robert Morris softball team with seven shutouts and 179 strikeouts.
Don Liebig/ASUCLA - Connellsville graduate Cassie Show was a four-year starter at Robert Morris whose 202 games played (out of a possible 203) and 394 assists are both career records.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Don Liebig/ASUCLA</em></div>Connellsville graduate Cassie Show was a four-year starter at Robert Morris whose 202 games played (out of a possible 203) and 394 assists are both career records.

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Though her team was unable to win a fourth consecutive Northeast Conference regular-season title in 2014, Nicole Sleith became the first Robert Morris University softball player to receive National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-Region selection in three different seasons.

A junior from Smithton and graduate of Yough High School, Sleith earned a spot on the third team in the Great Lakes Region. Seven teams from that region competed in the NCAA Division I Tournament this past spring.

Despite her lowest single-season win total in three years (14), Sleith ranked among the top 25 nationally in ERA at 1.32 across 164 innings and 28 appearances. That ERA stands as the second-best by a Colonial to toss more than 100 innings in a season and is the best such mark in more than 20 years.

Sleith tossed a career-high seven shutouts in 2014 and held opponents to a career-low .179 batting average, a mark that led the NEC. She posted career best numbers in both strikeout-to-walk ratio with 6.17 (179 strikeouts against 29 walks) and walks per seven innings with 1.24, a mark that ranks among the top 30 nationally. She allowed an average of just 4.48 hits allowed per seven innings.

Heading into her senior season, Sleith owns a 1.55 career ERA with 56 wins, 18 shutouts and 636 strikeouts, all marks that rank among the top four in school history.

Sleith's win-loss record is no indication of her effectiveness according to 24th-year Robert Morris softball head coach Craig Coleman.

“The variety of pitches she has mastered continues to increase,” said Coleman, who will begin his 10th season as the school's athletic director in the fall. “The precision with which she throws her pitches continues to improve. Now she has several years of Division I experience under her belt and continues to get better and better.”

Already third in career wins, Sleith would need 22 wins to surpass the record of 77 set by Terra Prosser from 1991 through 1994. Sleith owns the career save mark with 11 and also the ERA mark, which she will have to maintain in 2015.

Curtain closes on Show's career

Senior shortstop Cassie Show from Connellsville and Connellsville High School concluded her Robert Morris career as one of if not the most, durable players in school history.

A four-year starter, her 202 games played (out of a possible 203) and 394 assists are both career records.

Show also finished with career totals of 102 hits, 77 runs scored, 45 runs batted in and 20 doubles. She was second on the team in 2014 in doubles with seven.

During the Show's first three seasons, the Colonials compiled a 46-14 cumulative conference record with three straight regular-season championships.

“Cassie was a great player for us,” Coleman said. “The assist record to me is more important than the most games played record. That's much more impressive because what it points to is the balls that she got to and turned to outs that most shortstops just could never get to in the first place.”

Stating that Show made an immediate impact would be an understatement in Coleman's view.

“She was an asset for us in the field since day one,” he said. “She did improve but it was not like she had to become an asset. That's why she began her career as our starting shortstop.”

Robert Morris compiled a 24-25 overall record in 2014 for the program's first losing season in seven years.

Coleman believes a promising incoming class of five freshman recruits will enhance both the team's and Sleith's win totals in 2015.

“We are very high on our incoming freshman class and think many of them are going to help us right away,” Coleman added. “Everything will start with Nicole on the mound, absolutely.”

Bruce Wald is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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