July 7, 2003
Macerata, ITALY –
Former Seminole softball star Leslie Malerich ended her collegiate career pitching on national television at the 2002 College World Series. She is going to be playing in front of an even larger crowd in 2004 when she takes the circle with the Italian national team at the 2004 Olympics. The pitcher dominated the field at the Olympic Qualifying Tournament involving teams from Europe and Africa as she went a perfect 3-0 with an ERA of 0.00 as Italy won the region’s bid to the Athens’ games.
Malerich led the tournament with a 0.00 ERA in 17 innings in the circle. She notched wins over Botswana, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic in the championship game and she didn’t issue a walk throughout the tournament. She was also fifth in the field with 20 K’s. She allowed just four hits in the entire tournament and was part of an Italian staff that led the tournament with a 0.55 ERA.
“We are all so proud of Leslie. This is a wonderful accomplishment,” said Seminole softball head coach Dr. JoAnne Graf. “To be able to pitch your country to the Olympics is something you will take with you the rest of your life and Leslie deserves this type of success.”
Malerich was a two-time All-American at Florida State and a member of the 2002 WCWS All-Tournament team. She holds FSU career records for games pitched, innings pitched and wins and she is also in the top five for career strikeouts and shutouts. She set the single season record for wins (35) twice in her Seminole career and she holds single season records for innings pitched and appearances.
The Merrillville, IN native was a three-time All-ACC selection and a member of the 50th Anniversary team. She was selected to the all-region team twice in her career and was the MVP of the 2000 ACC Tournament. Malerich was also named the Most Outstanding Player at the 2002 NCAA Tallahassee Regional and was a two-time all-NCAA tournament selection.
Malerich is joined on the Italian national team by former All-ACC selection and North Carolina standout catcher Natalie Anter. The Tar Heel led Italy at the plate in homers and was second with six RBIs. She hit .318 and slugged .545. She was in the top 25 in the tournament in batting average and tied for fourth overall in RBIs.
The Italians will join the host nation Greece as one of just eight teams that will compete for the softball gold medal at 2004 Olympics. The summer games are just over 400 days away and this will be just the third Olympiad in which softball is an official sport.