Yough graduate Sleith rewriting Robert Morris softball pitching records
The long list of accomplishments by Nicole Sleith can boggle her mind and stir the curiosity of Robert Morris softball coach Craig Coleman.
He was convinced Sleith was a quality pitcher coming out of Yough in 2012. But this?
“I would have predicted out of high school that she'd be among the top pitchers in our program,” Coleman said. “You never know, though. (But) she's taken it to another level. She's clearly the best we've ever had.”
Pretty special, considering before Sleith on the mound came the likes of Alexis Bryson, Lauren Dickinson and Erica (Schwanke) List, the Colonials' current pitching coach.
She recently surpassed them all in strikeouts, breaking Robert Morris' all-time record with a combined 13 in a Northeast Conference doubleheader victory over Bryant on April 12.
Sleith, twice named NEC Pitcher of the Year, came away from Robert Morris' sweep of Wagner on Sunday with another a victory in the first game — a 3-2 decison over the visiting Seahawks — to improve to 18-8 on the year and move four wins away from owning that career mark.
Sleith started the second game and went two innings before being relieved with Robert Morris ahead 10-0 in a game that went just five innings with the Colonials prevailing 15-1.
“I owe a lot to the people who supported me from a very young age,” Sleith said. “My father really pushed me, and my pitching coaches have done the same.”
In particular, Sleith credited former pitching coach Jana Hudson, who conducts clinics for ERA Sports Inc., a Western Pennsylvania-based baseball and softball academy.
“Like my dad, she really pushed me as well,” said Sleith, who's studying to be a biomedical engineer.
A spot in that field, she hopes, is in the future, but she's willing to postpone it if she can latch on to one of the few existing teams in the National Pro FastPitch League, which includes the Pennsylvania Rebellion in Washington, Pa.
“If I get an opportunity, I'm going to run with it,” Sleith said. “It's the best of the best, but I'm confident in my abilities to be able to hold my own with them.”
“Being a lefty gives her one more advantage, only because it's a different look,” Coleman said. “Lefties aren't so much prevalent in softball as they are in baseball. But if she was a righty, she'd be dominant, too.”
Sleith throws a variety of pitches but uses a fastball during warmups only.
“Every one of her pitches has movements: up, down, in, out,” Coleman said. “She's got the ability to move the ball in different spots in every direction. Hitters know what's coming, yet they're fooled by it.
“She's the real deal.”
Dave Mackall is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.