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Yough's Sleith doesn't skip a beat at Robert Morris

| Sunday, April 7, 2013, 11:27 p.m.
Tim Cowie | For the Tribune-Review
Robert Morris pitcher Nicole Sleith pitches against Western Carolina on Feb. 24. The Yough graduate threw her first solo no-hitter March 29, becoming the fifth Colonials pitcher to do so.

Nicole Sleith dominated the WPIAL while pitching Yough High School to its first softball championship in 2011.

She's doing the same at Robert Morris University.

A sophomore, Sleith hasn't missed a beat and on March 29 tossed her first solo collegiate no-hitter against Mount St. Mary's.

She became the fifth RMU pitcher in school history to toss a no-hitter and thew the first non-combined no-hitter since 2003. She and Geena Badolato combined on a no-hitter at Mount St. Mary's in 2012.

“Nicole has surpassed all expectations,” Robert Morris coach and athletic director Dr. Craig Coleman said. “She's the most dominating pitcher in the conference. It's tough to throw a no-hitter in college.”

Sleith was the Northeast Conference Pitcher and Rookie of the Year in 2012 and earned NEC first-team honors after posting a 25-11 record with five saves, a ERA of 1.59 and 251 strikeouts in 247 innings. She also made the National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-Region second team.

She's already been named NEC Pitcher of the Week three times in 2013.

This season, Sleith is 10-4 with four saves and a 1.57 ERA, with 108 strikeouts in 93 23 innings. She shut out Monmouth and Fairleigh Dickinson over the weekend. Sleith has thrown three consecutive shutouts and nine in her career.

“I knew college would be a lot tougher because there are better hitters,” Sleith said. “I credit my defense for helping me in the no-hitter. They made a lot of good plays.

“I know in college I'm not going to dominate like high school. I have a lot of confidence that my defense will make the plays.”

Sleith said she really hasn't added any new pitches since high school. She still throws six pitches.

“I mix my speeds better,” Sleith said. “It's important to keep the batters guessing. I've developed more confidence in the change up. I throw it more now. But if I need to get an out, I still rely on something I know I'll throw for a strike. I probably wouldn't throw a rise ball in certain situations.”

Robert Morris is 20-10 and 5-1 in the NEC. The Colonials were picked to win the conference, mainly because of the strong pitching of Sleith and Badolato.

“Nicole is having another exceptional season,” Coleman said. “She's not having a sophomore jinx. She's refining her pitching game and continues to get better.”

Sleith was the Tribune-Review Softball Player of the Year in 2010 and 2011. She was 65-11 at Yough and struck out 979 in her career. She was 19-2 with 298 strikeouts and an 0.56 ERA in 2011.

Paul Schofield is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at pschofield@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Schofield_Trib.

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