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Hard work lands Forrest’s Bartoli with Cumberland University

Posted on Tuesday, June 11, 2024 at 8:48 am

Leslie Bartoli is all smiles as she signs her letter of intent to continue her softball career at Cumberland University. (Post Photo by Kacy Kincaid)

Bartoli makes contact in the District 9-AA tournament championship against Community. (Post Photo by Chris Siers)

While she got a start a little later in playing softball, former Forrest Lady Rocket Leslie Bartoli always had a dream of playing college ball.
After reaching out to the Cumberland University coaching staff, and playing in a few scrimmages, Bartoli got an offer to play for the Phoenix and the rest was history.
“I actually reached out to them on my own. I was able to speak to the coaches, went on a visit and was lucky enough to get enough of her time and got to talk to her. She (Coach Stephanie Theall) invited me to come back and scrimmage. I’ve officially scrimmaged with them twice,” Bartoli said.
With an opening in the Phoenix infield, and Bartoli’s skillset, the signing could be a perfect fit, although she’ll have to work her way into the starting lineup for Cumberland.
“It was actually going to be a perfect fit. This year, their senior first base graduated, so there will be an opening for me to work hard and get a chance. Overall, she loved my energy and my swing and my at-bats, because I’m more a hitter than a defensive player,” she said.
From her earliest days of playing softball, and recording her first hit off Titan legend Eddie George, to lending her part to the unprecedented run by the Lady Rockets over the course of her high school career, a stellar work ethic has always been the driving force for Bartoli, and been a key reason she’ll continue playing at the collegiate level.
“I’ve been playing softball since I was about 10 years old, which is much later than a lot of girls my age. I started in rec ball in Spring Hill. My first hit was actually off Eddie George, which is kind of crazy. I’ve done that, played travel ball and I tried out for the middle school team in seventh grade and actually didn’t make the team. I tried out again as an eighth grader, made the team and have been working hard to prove myself ever since,” she said.
Being part of the Lady Rocket championship team in 2021 ranks high on the list of memories for Bartoli, but the years following and putting in the work to maintain the prowess of the Lady Rockets were every bit as special.
“The state championship was a great memory, but honestly the years after that were even better because I was more a part of my junior and senior year. It’s definitely never been handed to us and we’ve always had to work hard as a team,” she said.
While she’s still a few months away from starting her freshman year, Bartoli already has her career path planned out.
“I’m going to study business management and I’m going to have a minor in strength and conditioning,” she said.
Cumberland University is a NAIA school and competes in the Mid-South Conference and finished the 2024 season with a 21-20 overall record.