Mt Lebanon Magazine

710 Washington Rd
Pittsburgh, PA 15228

Mt Lebanon Magazine

The official magazine of Mt. Lebanon, Pennsylvania

Slow pitch softball thriving in Lebo 

softball game in 80s
My mid 80s rec team after a win on “Wildcat” Field (now Dixon Field)

Chewing Double Bubble in pigtails and tube socks. Choking up on one of three shared bats. Moms and dads cheering from the bleachers. Holding up that shiny new trophy on a 90-degree day. Drinking red pop and playing pinball at the Pub & Pizza after games. For those who grew up in Mt. Lebanon, this was girls’ softball in the late 1970s.

Decades later, slow pitch softball is not just still here in Mt. Lebanon, but it’s more popular than ever, thanks to the work of who some may call the First Family of Lebo Softball, aka, the Orelli Family of Sunset Hills.

man and three girls
Leo with daughters Logan, Lexi, and Hayden in 2018

The Orellis’ softball journey began in 2015 when their daughter, Lexi, and five of her teammates developed a love for the game and wanted to play at a more competitive level than what traditional rec league offered. That prompted her dad, Coach Leo, to discover the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Softball League (WPISL), a regional fall-based travel league for athletes in high school and junior high. Within 30 days, Leo Orelli became the co-founder and president of the newly named Lebo Softball Club (LSC) and recruited enough girls to field two WPISL teams: one junior varsity and one middle school team. Little did they know this was just the beginning.

The very next fall, Leo created and organized what would become the annual Opening Pitch Tournament, hosted in Mt. Lebanon for the WPISL teams. To bridge the gap between the spring rec league and the fall WPISL season, he created a summer tournament team that made it to the World Series of Softball in Dayton, Ohio, in 2019, making it to the final four.

As interest in slow pitch softball took off, Leo thought it was important for the players be recognized in the community. He completed all the necessary steps to make slow pitch softball an official district-sponsored sport. Now, LSC teams are included in the high school yearbook and varsity players can earn a letter. He also helped Mt. Lebanon become home to the annual WPISL Varsity Playoffs.

softball skills camp
Coach Leo helps teach the fundamentals at the LSC Skills Clinic

It’s not surprising that when Leo saw an opportunity to help promote softball outside of our community, he ran with it. In 2020, he was elected as the WPISL president, a position he still holds today. As president, he launched a developmental program, gradually expanding WPISL to elementary aged players. And this fall, for the first time ever, the WPISL will be open to all players from grades 1 to 12. To support these younger players, LSC hosts a spring clinic at the Green Tree SportsPlex, where coaches and experienced players teach skills such as batting, fielding and sliding. Last year, he also organized WPISL Developmental Day where sixth-graders played a game on the field at PNC Park!

Under Leo’s leadership, WPISL has grown from 17 districts with 43 teams, to 25 districts with 61 teams and counting. Today, more than 600 softball players are making their own special memories out there on the field, including his youngest daughter, Hayden. When asked why he does it, Leo humbly stated, “It’s about so much more than softball. It’s about life lessons … learning how to win with grace and lose with grace. It’s about being a good teammate. It’s about being a part of something bigger than yourself.”

Leo has done so much more than grow a sport; he’s created a culture. A culture where blue LSC hoodies fill school playgrounds. A culture that invites girls to “the turf” on Friday nights, even when they’re not playing. A culture where snaps and selfies are sent, friendships are formed, and confidence is built. What’s so unique about girls’ slow pitch is that no one is going to college for it; scholarships aren’t riding on it. These girls are playing the sport simply because—well, because like Lexi Orelli, they just love the game.

“We have so many dedicated board members, volunteers, coaches, and players, who have all come together to make our club what it is today. LSC really has become a family, and none of this is possible without each and every one of them,” Leo added.

For more information about LSC, please go to lebosc.org. In the meantime, all residents are invited to catch a home game in person this fall. And after the game Leo, alongside his wife Michelle, daughters, and several other softball families, may just be hanging out, laughing, talking about softball over a drink and a slice of pizza at where else but Caliente—the very place many once knew as the Pub & Pizza.

teenage girls eating pizza
LSC teammates celebrate after a game at Caliente

Comments

  1. Author’s gravatar

    Love this article! From the 1970’s to today, the girls who played ball will still remember their experiences and the coaches who taught and guided them. Thanks go to every one of them, and a very special thanks to Leo, who literally took the ball and ran with it!

  2. Author’s gravatar

    Thanks, Mom! ❤️

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