|Sleith Claims NFCA All-Region Honors|
Moon Township, Pa. - Freshman Nicole Sleith (Smithton, Pa. / Yough) of the Robert Morris University softball team collected the most prestigious honor yet in her young collegiate career as she earned National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) All-Region honors as announced in a release by the organization Thursday.
The rookie pitcher earned a spot on the Second Team in the Great Lakes Region to become the 13th distinct Colonial to take home all-region accolades.
The all-region teams were chosen by NFCA member coaches from each region. All of the all-region honorees will now be eligible for selection to an All-American team.
Sleith was one of only three freshmen, at any position, in the entire region to earn this distinction, joining Sara Driesenga and Haylie Wagner of Michigan. Her selection marks the first for Robert Morris since the Colonials were moved into the Great Lakes Region, one which contains more than a half dozen schools bound for the NCAA Tournament this year, including Michigan, Louisville, Notre Dame, Syracuse and Northwestern.
Sleith had previously become just the second student-athlete in Northeast Conference (NEC) history to win both the league's Pitcher of the Year and Rookie of the Year awards in the same season.
Sleith had a record-setting rookie campaign in the circle for the Colonials. She broke the school's single-season record for wins, a mark that had stood for 21 years, by notching her 25th victory of the season in RMU's postseason opener against Monmouth. She completed the campaign with a 1.59 ERA, which sits as the fourth-lowest in RMU single-season history and the best by a Colonial since 1998. Sleith blew past 200 strikeouts, becoming the first RMU freshman ever to surpass that figure, and finished with 251 on the year, third in single-season history for the Colonials. She leads the NEC in wins, strikeouts and saves (5) and ranks among the top 30 nationally in each of those categories. Against league opponents, Sleith tallied 13 wins along with a 1.50 ERA and a .222 opponents' batting average. She racked up 137 strikeouts against NEC foes while giving up just 18 walks in 130.1 innings to post a strikeout-to-walk ratio better than 7.6:1. Sleith's 27 complete games were the most ever by a RMU freshman, and she also ranked among the single-season top 10 in both winning percentage and shutouts.
Sleith picked up wins in each of her first three collegiate appearances and never looked back as she notched wins over BIG EAST foes Georgetown and Pittsburgh and struck out five batters in 2.2 innings of hitless, shutout relief against nationally-ranked Hawaii. Even though she was a workhorse for the Colonials, Sleith's outings improved as the season progressed. Over her final 18 appearances, Sleith was 10-2 with a 0.96 ERA as she collected 106 strikeouts against just 10 walks in 102 innings. Sleith, who was named to the NEC's All-Tournament Team after tallying 24 strikeouts against a lone walk during the event, also came through in the tightest situations as she held opponents to a .160 batting average with two outs and runners in scoring position.
Sleith's selection marks the fifth time in RMU history in which a pitcher has been named all-region and the first since Danielle Cohen in 2005.
RMU registered a program-record 35 wins in 2012, including posting a 15-5 mark in NEC play to claim first place in the conference for the second-consecutive season. The Colonials also broke the school record for road wins (14) and led the league in ERA (1.84) and ranked second in runs scored (102) during NEC play.