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Leslie Malerich, who pitched Merrillville H.S. to the 1997 IHSAA state title and went on to play for the Italian national team, most notably in the 2004 Olympics, has joined the Crusader coaching staff as an assistant coach beginning with the 2012 season.
A local product, Malerich tossed a one-hit shutout over Carmel in the state championship game to give Merrillville the 1997 IHSAA softball championship. She was named the NWI Times Female Athlete of the Year, as well as Softball Player of the Year, and eventually was inducted into the IHSAA Softball Hall of Fame in 2005.
Following her prep career, Malerich went on to a standout career at Florida State from 1999-2002, where she still holds the Seminoles’ career wins (107), appearances (179) and innings pitched (988.2) records, as well as single-season marks in wins and appearances. A three-time All-American, Malerich led the Seminoles to the Women’s College World Series in 2002, getting named to the WCWS All-Tournament Team after earning Regional MVP honors. The ACC Player of the Year as a junior in 2001, Malerich also earned a spot on the ACC 50th Anniversary Team.
Malerich played for the Italian national team from 2002-2009, highlighted by an appearance in the 2004 Olympics. She also helped pitched Italy to three European titles, and was team MVP at the 2009 European Championships. Malerich also played professionally in Italy for two years with Crocetta Parma and seven years with Fiorini Forli, helping the latter squad to two league titles and two European titles while being named an All-Star three times. She also pitched for the Stratford [Conn.] Brakettes ASA team for five years as well.
Malerich also brings with her coaching experience at the Division I level, as she served as an assistant coach at Quinnipiac during the 2006 and 2007 seasons. In addition, she spent three years as a high school assistant and also has worked numerous clinics, as well as giving private lessons for the last ten years.