B-A grad Nagle drafted to play professionally down south

By John Hartsock

jhartsock@altoonamirror.com

Bellwood native Emily Nagle began playing baseball at the tender age of 4, and she stuck with the sport through the age of 14 and Teener League competition.

At that point, Nagle switched to playing softball, and it became her passion. Nagle was a four-year softball standout as a center fielder at both Bellwood-Antis High School and Slippery Rock State University, from which she graduated with a degree in environmental science this past spring.

Nagle’s superb career at Slippery Rock enabled her to be picked to play in the fledgling American Softball Association (ASBA), a new professional women’s softball league with four teams that is based in the Mobile, Ala. area.

The league’s season will begin on Friday and run through July 31, and Nagle will play on the league’s E1 Pro Ballers team.

“I’ve been working real hard since I started playing baseball at the age of 4,” said Nagle, 22, who departed for Mobile on Tuesday. “Basically, my whole life has consisted of playing softball or baseball. I really didn’t think that there would be a professional softball team that I would be able to play for, and now that there is, I’m really excited about it.”

Nagle’s four-year career statistics at Slippery Rock were very impressive. She appeared in 156 games, including 147 as a starter, and posted a career batting average of .363 with 180 hits in 496 at-bats, hitting 13 doubles, 11 triples, and two home runs. She drove in 45 runs and had a slugging percentage of .446.

In her senior year, the 5-foot-8 Nagle — who bats left-handed and throws right-handed — hit. 340 (with 50 hits in 147 at-bats) in 43 games as a starter, with three doubles, five triples, a homer, and 16 RBIs. She stole eight bases in eight tries, and reached base safely in 29 straight games.

In her college career, Nagle earned two All-Pennsylvania State Association Conference (PSAC) West Division selections, she was a one-time NFCA All-Region selection, and she was a two-time PSAC West Athlete of the Week.

“She has very natural ability, she’s a hard worker, and a team player,” Slippery Rock assistant coach Ashley Carter said of Nagle. “Each year, she got better and better as a player, and I’ve enjoyed watching her grow as a player.”

Nagle’s excellent statistics were one reason that she was chosen by the ASBA’s E1 Pro Ballers in the ninth round of the league’s draft with the 35th pick. A total of 96 players entered the league’s draft, and 56 were chosen — 14 by each of the league’s four teams.

Connections were another factor in Nagle being picked to play in the new league, which is one of just two professional women’s softball leagues in the United States. Carter recommended Nagle to E1 Pro Ballers field manager Jason Jennings.

“He was asking about certain players, and I recommended Emily Nagle,” Carter said. “I knew that she could play at that level if he was willing to take a chance on her.”

It also helped Nagle’s cause that Jennings got a first-hand look at Nagle’s skills when watching her play with the Slippery Rock team at Myrtle Beach, S.C. during the 2017 season.

Jennings believes that Nagle brings the total package to the softball field.

“She’s a really fast runner, she has good range in the outfield, she has a good arm, and she’s a dynamic hitter who gets down the line quickly as well,” Jennings said. “She’s an all-around elite athlete that I’m looking for on my team and that we’re looking for in the league.”

Players on the four teams in the American Softball Association will each be paid a base salary, and along with that, financial proceeds from the games — which will all be played at the Mobile-area Satsuma High School field — will be split up among the league’s players.

Players who put up the best statistics will be awarded an additional stipend, and members of the league championship team will get additional money as well.

Additional playing opportunities for the players in the league will include a trip to California in August, and travel to the home sites of NCAA Division I college softball programs for games in September and October.

An opportunity to play next December and January in Arizona is also presently on the table for the league’s players.

“I would like to play for as long as I can,” Nagle said. “It’s a great opportunity for me to take and say that I did it.”

All of the team’s games can be seen online with a subscription of essentially $9.99 per month or 20 dollars for the two-month season by accessing the league’s website.

“I would just like to say ‘Thank You’ for all the coaches in my past, including my high school softball coach, Jim Payne at Bellwood, and my parents,” said Nagle, an all-around athlete who also participated in volleyball and swimming as a Bellwood-Antis student. “Now that there are more opportunities to play softball after high school, (perhaps) other girls will want to play softball. It’s a growing sport.”

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