Monday, April 6, 2009

For University of Albany's Leah McIntosh, The Standard is Perfection - UAlbany Sports 2009

By most pitchers' standards, it was a brilliant performance: 18 strikeouts, no walks, and five hits scattered over eight-plus innings.

However, University at Albany softball junior Leah McIntosh lost the game 3-1 to Boston University on March 28 when she allowed a two-run homer in the ninth. The defeat in extra innings was her only loss of the season, and McIntosh vented her frustration to her father, Dave, in Whitby, Ontario.

"She went ballistic," Dave McIntosh said. "She absolutely blamed herself, blamed her teammates, blamed her coaches. I got a text message from her that said, 'I don't want to go here anymore. Find me a new school.' "

After a day, McIntosh cooled off. And it didn't take long for McIntosh, who describes herself as "the biggest perfectionist," to meet even her own incredibly high standards. She threw her Division I-leading third perfect game of the season in a 6-0 victory over Hartford on Sunday.

McIntosh said she wasn't aware she'd retired all 21 batters she faced until pitching coach Jack Coons told her after the game. "It was one of the games where everything was working, and you can't complain about that," McIntosh said.

McIntosh struck out 12 and improved to 11-1 on the season with a 0.57 earned-run average. She had the third-lowest ERA in the nation through March 29, and her 12.2 strikeouts per seven innings ranked second.

"Nobody's hitting her at all," UAlbany coach Chris Cannata said. "Sometimes, they're not even fouling it off." McIntosh has dominated despite severe tendinitis in her right (throwing) wrist that prevents her from bending her hand back. She also has constant pain in both knees because of Osgood-Schlatter Disease, which has left her without cartilage.

"I live in the training room," said McIntosh, who is contemplating knee surgery after the season. "You get used to it." And yet Cannata said the 5-foot-10 McIntosh throws the ball "a lot harder" than former UAlbany standouts Casey Halloran, Andee Lindgren and Amanda Morin, who all won America East Conference Pitcher of the Year honors.

She also has unusual control for a power pitcher, with 11 walks in 86 innings.
"She could pitch just about anywhere (in the country)," Cannata said.

She learned to pitch in an unlikely place, the town of Whitby, located on Lake Ontario and known more for hockey and lacrosse than softball.

McIntosh gave up soccer for softball at age 7 under the tutelage of her father, who threw in fast-pitch leagues for 30 years. That's why McIntosh says she throws "like a guy," relying more on sheer arm power than the leg action and technique of most female pitchers.

McIntosh developed to pitch for Canada's junior national team, and UAlbany first noticed her in a tournament at Kent State.

McIntosh signed with the Great Danes and, except for her emotional outburst after the Boston U. loss, said she loves being at UAlbany.

"It's a family,'' she said. "I've never been on a team like this."
And it's possible UAlbany has never had a pitcher like this.

Career statistics

2007 11 6 3.02 125 158
2008 17 6 1.57 1552/3217
2009 11 1 0.57 86 153
Total 39 13 1.83 3662/3528

Courtesy: Mark Singelais

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