By Bob Behre
Kylie Gletow has the type of softball skills that can shut you down and knock you out.
Whether she’s beating you with a high heater from the circle or crushing a fastball into the gap at the plate, Gletow is a coach’s dream as a multi-tool player. Gletow will trade in her Finch’s Aces and Hunterdon Central uniforms next September for softball gear bearing the name Monmouth University.
“I looked at a bunch of schools in the northeast during my freshman year and Monmouth was one of them,” said Gletow, a hard-throwing righthander with an assortment of pitches that include her fastball, curveball, changeup, rise, drop curve and drop screwball. “As soon as I stepped onto campus, I immediately knew it was the school for me. I turned to my dad and said, ‘Dad, this is where I’m going.’”
Gletow is coming off a high school season in which she led 23-4 Hunterdon Central with a 21-2 record and a paltry 1.87 ERA. Any player would gladly take those numbers and hang them prominently in a frame in their den. But Gletow was much more than a pitcher for Hunterdon Central in 2018. She also batted .330 in the middle of a potent lineup and ripped five doubles, mashed three home runs and drove in 21 runs.
Gletow had 29 hits in 2018 to lift her career total to 62, giving her an outside shot at reaching the coveted 100 career hits plateau.
“We’ve been lucky to have Kylie since her freshman year,” said Hunterdon Central’s head coach Kelly Rieder, soon to start her fifth season with the Red Devils. “She’s been a leader in the circle and a threat in the middle of the lineup.”
Gletow intends to use all of her softball skills at Monmouth, which boasts a cozy campus in West Long Branch, N.J. “I expect to pitch and hit and could possibly play in the outfield,” said Gletow.
While Gletow’s commitment to Monmouth University -- the signature on the dotted line type -- occurred last Wednesday during a ceremony at her high school, she truly committed mentally to the Hawks’ program moments after her first visit to campus as a freshman.
“I started going to softball camps at Monmouth right away to get to know the coach and how they run their program,” said Gletow. “I remember Monmouth head coach Shannon Salsburg talking during introductions at my first camp and she was so nice. I knew the school and softball program at Monmouth was for me.”
Gletow is certainly joining a Monmouth University softball program that is on the rise. The Hawks went 32-16 last spring on the way to winning the program’s first-ever MAAC Conference championship. Monmouth was a staggering 19-1 in conference play and swept through the MAAC post-season tournament 3-0 to earn a NCAA Tournament berth. Salsbury will begin her fourth season with the Hawks in 2019 having posted an impressive 86-68 record despite a brutally ambitious out of conference schedule.
Gletow plays on the Ace’s 18U Premier team coached by program director Jackie Spina, who doubles as the Ridge High School head coach.
“Kylie has shown exponential growth throughout my tenure coaching her,” said Spina, herself a DePaul University grad where she starred on the softball team. “She has always and continues to put in hard work that will only make her transition into college a smooth one. I am looking forward to seeing her success as she finishes out her high school career and her final summer with the Aces before heading to Monmouth.”
Gletow’s year-to-year strikeouts-to-walks numbers reflect that hard work, exponential growth and simply the maturation of a talented pitcher. Kylie was thrown into the fray her sophomore season and, though producing a 15-6 record, had to grind through the typical command challenges of a young pitcher that included 71 strikeouts and 61 walks in 137 innings. Those numbers improved significantly to 76-24 in 134.1 innings in 2017 before Gletow showcased an even more polished product as a junior in 2018. That impressive campaign saw Gletow strike out 149 batters and walk just 43 in 165 innings.
She’ll continue to work in the off-season at Diamond Nation honing those skills. “This is my second season with the Aces and I love it. I get a lot out of the practices with coach Jackie and it’s great to have a place where I can always go to practice.”
Gletow, a high-achieving student, has always taken her studies seriously, so that was a critical part of the college equation for her.
“I’ve always been told that when you are playing a sport, do not pick a school just because of the coach,” said Gletow. “I would go to Monmouth even if I didn’t play softball.”
Playing softball at the Division 1 level is demanding and Gletow has always demanded much from herself on and off the softball field. “Kylie has become more confident each year,” says Rieder. “I am so proud of her and I’m really looking forward to her senior season. I have a feeling it’s going to be her best.”
And she has even more going for her than that.
“Kylie is a great kid from a great family,” says Spina. “I am proud to have been able to coach her and become a part of her softball journey.”