RIC welcomes NP's Riley to Athletic Hall of Fame

RIC welcomes NP's Riley to Athletic Hall of Fame

North Providence's Nicole Riley, center, who was one of the greatest pitchers in the history of the Rhode Island College softball team, was inducted into the RIC Athletic Hall of Fame during the school's Homecoming Weekend. Riley is shown posing for a picture with her Hall of Fame plaque with Hall of Fame committee member Arthur Pontarelli, left, and Clark Greene, the Interim Vice President for College Advancement.

PROVIDENCE - Induction into a high school or college's Athletic Hall of Fame is a truly prestigious honor, one that's usually bestowed to a deserving individual later in their life, and most often when he or she reaches their 40s, 50s, and beyond.

North Providence native Nicole Riley, who is regarded as one of the best pitchers to ever toe the mound for the Rhode Island College softball team, earned such a high honor during the school's Homecoming weekend when she was one of the seven inductees into the RIC Athletic Hall of Fame during a ceremony at the Donovan Dining Center.

It's the second time Riley has been inducted into a Hall of Fame, for six years earlier, she was welcomed into North Providence High's Athletic Hall of Fame after enjoying a standout three-year career with the Cougars.

And get this: She's only 29.

"It's great to be recognized," said Riley, who received a bachelor's degree in general studies from RIC in 2009. "It's an honor to be in RIC's Hall of Fame. I played on some great teams and I've had great teammates and coaches, and (the Hall of Fame) wouldn't have been possible without them."

Riley took the time to thank several people for her recent honor, starting with her family and friends and continuing with the coaches and players in her "RIC family" and her high school softball coach, Paul Rizzo, whom she played for from 2001-2003 at North Providence and won a Division I state championship with as a sophomore.

"(Rizzo) is the reason why I was so successful in high school and in college," said Riley, who transferred from La Salle to NP after her freshman year of high school, earned multiple All-Division and All-State honors, and also helped the Cougars reach the Division I finals as a senior. "He was an excellent coach and I owe a lot to him."

Riley starred on the mound for the Anchorwomen from 2004 to 2007, and in 122 games (98 of them starts), she posted a 77-20 record, recorded five saves, and complied a 1.54 ERA, 600 strikeouts, 59 complete games, and 23 shutouts.

When Riley graduated, she did so as the program's all-time leader in career appearances, games started, wins, relief appearances (24), and shutouts. Riley also ranked second in both innings pitched and strikeouts, third in career ERA, and fourth in complete games.

Riley also established the longest consecutive winning streak in NCAA Division III softball history (43 games), which began on March 17, 2006 and ended on April 22, 2007 in a 4-0 loss to Keene State. It's still the longest streak in the country, and it's one Riley takes a great deal of pride in.

During her time with the Anchorwomen, RIC also won three Little East Conference regular-season championships and two Little East Tournament titles, and in Riley's senior year, she also helped RIC post a 4-0 mark to claim the NCAA New England regional championship and reach the national championship round in Salem, Va.

The honors rolled in for Riley that year. She was named a Second-Team All-American by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association, as well as the Cox Sports' R.I. Female Athlete of the Year and the Little East Conference's Co-Pitcher of the Year. She was also a First-Team All-New England and First-Team All-Little East selection.

As a junior, Riley also picked up her share of hardware. She was the Little East Conference Pitcher of the Year and a First Team All-Little East, All-NEISCA, and All-New England pick.

Riley was also named to the 2006 NCAA Div. III New England Regional Softball Tournament's All-Tournament Team as an at-large selection.

After graduating from RIC, Riley chose to stay in the game and spent the 2008 and 2009 seasons as an assistant coach for the St. Raphael Academy softball team. She also gave pitching lessons, and in 2013, she got a chance to rejoin her "softball family" at RIC and become its head coach.

But last year turned out to be her lone season at the helm, as she stepped aside to devote more time to her occupation as a life skills trainer at NeuroRestorative in Charlestown.

Under her guidance, RIC posted a 23-23 overall record and an 8-6 mark in Little East Conference play that gave the Anchorwomen the fifth seed in the LEC Tournament. There, they rattled off four victories in a row before falling to Plymouth State in the championship game, 1-0.