Sleith fitting right in with RMU softball

By Alyssa Benson, Copy Editor

Just last year Nicole Sleith, freshman pitcher on the Robert Morris University softball team, was leading Yough to a WPIAL Class AAA championship and winning Player of the Year accolades. This year, she has fit like a glove in the Colonials lineup.

Coming into the 2012 season, head coach Craig Coleman had three solid pitchers that he planned to use in different situations throughout the season. However, after an injury to senior ace, Alexa Bryson, his plans had to change a bit.

“I never expected Lex [Bryson] to get hurt, and I really thought we were going to have a three-headed monster on the mound,” said Coleman. “We were going to change pitchers frequently, and we had a plan for how we were going to do that, but that all went out the window with Lex’s injury.”

Once Bryson went down, both Sleith and sophomore, Geena Badolato, were called upon heavily. As conference play began, the freshman has been relied on to carry a majority of the load for her team.

“I have just stayed positive and tried to limit my pitch counts,” she said of the increased role. “Lex is always there for me with advice when I need it, so even though she’s not playing, she still helps us out a lot.”

Thus far, Sleith has compiled a 17-10 record with a 1.79 era and 176 strikeouts in 172 innings pitched. Most recently, she combined with Badolato to throw a no-hitter against Mount St. Mary’s.

The Northeast Conference (NEC) has also recognized Sleith’s success as she has been tabbed Pitcher of the Week once and Rookie of the Week three times.

Sleith admits she’s learned a lot so far in her transition from high school softball to NCAA Division I softball.

“In high school, the pace of the game was much slower, and here everything is much more sped up so that was something I had to adjust to,” she said. “Also, I had to learn to mix up my pitches to try and keep the batters off balance because every batter in college is capable of hitting a homerun at any time, and that wasn’t the case in high school.”

Coleman looks at his pitcher and believes that for a freshman, with no prior college experience, she’s handled herself very well.

“So far I think she’s been tremendous especially considering the fact that she’s a freshman and she hasn’t been exposed to this kind of pressure,” he said. “As far as Nicole is concerned she came in here with no experience and she’s done great.”

Coming into her freshman season, Sleith wasn’t sure what she should expect, other than a solid Colonials lineup.

“My expectations were high for us as a team,” she said. “I knew we had a lot of returning talent along with many freshmen that would make an impact. “

Now that the season is winding down, her sight is on conference games against NEC rivals, as well as the post-season tournament.

“I know that conference games are the most important, so I just try to help our team win in anyway that I can.”