Sleith ends softball career at Robert Morris in perfect fashion
Robert Morris University standout pitcher Nicole Sleith concluded her prolific collegiate career with a first-ever program accomplishment and many school records.
The senior southpaw from Smithton and Yough High School graduate pitched a 2-0 perfect game victory over Fairleigh Dickinson (Teaneck, N.J.) University in a Northeast Conference Tournament elimination game on May 8.
In the first perfect game in school softball history, Sleith struck out six while getting seven outs on the ground and eight in the air. She threw 51 of her 76 pitches for strikes.
Her single-game gem concluded a 2015 season that saw Sleith appear in 38 of the Colonials' 49 games with 34 starts and pitched 225 of the team's 309.2 defensive innings. Sleith went 22-13 overall with 296 strikeouts, 31 complete games, nine strikeouts, and a 2.08 ERA.
With her perfect game, Sleith tied the NEC single-season strikeout record of 296 and also set a team record with 932 career shutouts. Her nine shutouts were the most by a Colonial in a single season since 1998. She finished with 27 career shutouts, which is second best in team history.
Sleith also finished with a school record 78 career victories and with the perfect game surpassed the record of 77 set by Terra Prosser from 1991 through 1994. She also owns career records for innings pitched (806.1), appearances (147), saves (11), and is tied for first in career starts with 114. Her .650 career winning percentage is second and 98 complete games are third in the career record books.
Sleith pitched three collegiate no-hitters overall.
Her success and endurance on the mound were earned through pure hard work according to 25th-year Robert Morris softball head coach Craig Coleman.
“Nicole prides herself on being in remarkable shape and works above and beyond anything we do in practice,” said Coleman, who will begin his 11th season as the school's athletic director in the fall. “She's a runner, does extra work in the weight room and is a very finely conditioned athlete which allows her to do what she did.
“I think she'll go down here as the best pitcher we've ever had.”
She also became just the second Northeast Conference student-athlete to be named the league's Pitcher of the Year three times. Sleith was also chosen as a National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-Great Lakes Region second-team all-star four straight times.
Her workhorse season helped Robert Morris win a fourth NEC regular season title in the past five years with a 13-3 league mark. The Colonials were 26-23 overall and Sleith's perfect game was sandwiched between a pair of season-ending losses to Long Island Brooklyn University at the NEC tourney.
In 2012 as a freshman Sleith compiled a 25-11 overall record with a 1.59 ERA and won 17 and 14 games her sophomore and junior seasons, respectively.
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 scholastic career with a 65-11 overall record and 979 strikeouts. She led Yough to its first WPIAL Class AAA championship in 2011, and went 19-2 overall that season with three no-hitters, 298 strikeouts and a 0.56 ERA.
Also a superb student, she was selected Capital One Academic All-District First Team as announced by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) earlier this month. Sleith was one of just two softball student-athletes from the Northeast Conference to earn this honor in 2015.
She is now on the national Academic All-America ballot after claiming this honor at the regional level for the second straight season. Sleith becomes the fifth student-athlete in program history to earn multiple Academic All-District awards during a career.
An engineering major with a cumulative grade-point average higher than 3.72, she also earned a master's in engineering management during the 2015-16 academic year.
“She's been an outstanding student in a very academically difficult field of study,” Coleman added. “The biomedical engineering degree is extremely challenging, and she's gone through with flying colors.”
While Coleman prepares his team and the Colonials athletic program for the upcoming 2015-16 year, he takes fond memories of the softball team's ace pitcher over the past four years.
“Because Nicole is such a great kid and great student we're proud that she's sort of the face of the program because she's the real deal all the away around,” he said. “She's accomplished a lot of great things, and we are going to miss her a lot.”
Bruce Wald is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.