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Rob Potter | Democrat

As her proud parents Tracey, left, and Mike Diescher look on, Livingston Manor Central School senior Marissa Diescher signs a national letter of intent to play softball at Penn State University on Monday night at Pro Prospects Training Center in Monticello.

Manor’s Marissa Diescher signs to play softball at Penn State

By Rob Potter
MONTICELLO — November 19, 2010 — In August 2009, just before starting her junior year at Livingston Manor Central School, Marissa Diescher made a verbal commitment to play her college softball at Penn State University.
On Monday night, she put it writing.
As a group of family members, friends and coaches looked on at Pro Prospects Training Center in Monticello, Diescher signed a national letter of intent to attend Penn State and play for the Nittany Lions softball team. She will receive a full four-year scholarship worth about $36,000 per year.
Diescher, a 17-year-old senior, became the starting pitcher for the Manor Lady Wildcats varsity softball team as an eighth-grader.
In June, Diescher helped the Lady Wildcats win the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class D championship and was named the state Class D Co-Player of the Year. For the 2010 season, she had an 18-3 record with a 0.34 earned run average and 339 strikeouts. She threw seven no-hitters during the season, including one in Manor’s state semifinal win.
In her high school career, Diescher has thrown two perfect games and 18 no-hitters, recorded 1,094 strikeouts and posted a 0.49 earned run average.
Diescher, who said she wants to hit in college, had a .345 batting average this past season.
More than 20 Division I schools recruited Diescher, including UConn, Boston University, Syracuse, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Marist and South Florida.
Even though she verbally committed to Penn State more than a year ago, some schools kept contacting Diescher. So she was excited to sign the letter of intent.
“I can relax now and get ready for college,” she said. “When those schools contacted me, I kept saying I already verbally committed, I already verbally committed. So it’s nice that I won’t have to worry about that now.”
Although she visited about 10 schools, Penn State made an immediate impression on Diescher when she visited the University Park, Pa. campus.
“I just loved the campus,” she explained. “I loved being there at a Division I school and meeting the coaches. The atmosphere is great with the football games. On my last visit, I got to go down on the football field with the other recruits and that was really cool.”
Diescher is looking forward to playing for Penn State Head Coach Robin Petrini, Assistant Coach Jen McIntyre and Assistant Coach Lisa Banse.
In addition, Diescher is excited about playing at the new Nittany Lion Softball Park. The facility, which seats 1,084 people, is scheduled to open next March.
Diescher said she plans to major in sports management but might switch her major to kinesiology after her freshman year.
She is also grateful for the encouragement and support she has received from her family, friends and coaches.
That support starts with her family, which includes parents Mike and Tracey, brother Mike Jr. and grandparents Dick and Joan Fredenburg.
“She deserves all that she gets,” Tracey Diescher said. “She really worked hard for everything.
“Marissa also has a great support system around her,” Tracey added. “One of her coaches with her softball travel team, Angelo Matz, has a lot of connections with college coaches. And everyone here at Pro Prospects has been very helpful.”
“We are really proud of her,” Mike Diescher said. “She’ll get a great education at Penn State and the experience of playing Big Ten [Conference] softball.
“Pro Prospects has done a great job helping Marissa,” he added. “Jed [Carrier] has helped her to improve her hitting and Darren [Rea] taught her different ways to spin the ball when she pitches. Steve [Pinto] and his staff do a great job with all of the kids who come here for lessons.”
Angelo Matz and George Rollman are coaches for the Tri-State Angels, a travel team based in Port Jervis. Marissa Diescher played for the Tri-State Angels 16- and-Under team in 2008 and for the Angels 18-and-Under team the past two years.
“I’ve been coaching softball for 26 years and George has been coaching softball for 33 years and we have never seen so many coaches follow a player around like they did with Marissa,” Matz said.
“At one game, there were 11 college coaches behind the backstop with radar guns focused on Marissa,” Rollman said.
Matz noted that some coaches were skeptical Diescher could throw a 67 mph fastball, but once they saw her they believed it.
“She has pitched against some elite teams in elite tournaments,” said Matz, noting that back in August Diescher helped the Tri-State Angels 18-and-Under team win the championship at the Triple Crown Nationals in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
“She’s just a great kid,” Rollman said. “I think that sometimes she is a little embarrassed by all the attention she gets.”
In addition to being coached by Matz, Rollman and Manor Co-Coaches Kevin Clifford and Charlie Hicks, this is the fifth year that Diescher is taking pitching and hitting lessons from the staff at Pro Prospects Training Center.
Pro Prospects owner Steve Pinto noted that more than 100 athletes who have taken lessons at the center have gone on to play baseball or softball in college. But Diescher is the first one to sign a national letter of intent to attend a major Division I school.
“Marissa obviously has God-given ability,” Pinto said. “But her two best qualities are her outstanding work ethic and being such a fierce competitor.”
Evidence of Diescher’s work ethic can be seen by looking down at the carpet in the Pro Prospects facility.
“Because Marissa has thrown thousands and thousands of pitches from the same spot, she wore two holes in the carpet,” Pinto said.
Clifford and Hicks have coached Diescher on the Manor varsity softball team for the past three seasons. Coach Gail Denman guided the Lady Wildcats in Diescher’s first year.
“It’s pretty exciting,” Clifford said of Diescher signing her letter of intent. “It’s nice to see all of her hard work pay off.
“One of Marissa’s best qualities is her coachability,” Clifford continued. “She is always willing to listen to us and try to get even better.
“I think she’ll have a great career [at Penn State],” Clifford added.
For the near future, however, Clifford is hoping Diescher can help the Lady Wildcats basketball team win a Section IX Class D championship. Of course, he is also hoping Diescher and her teammates can defend their softball state title in the spring.
Christine Babich has been best friends with Marissa Diescher “since before Pre-K.” They have been teammates on Little League softball teams as well as the Manor girls’ soccer, basketball and softball teams.
“It’s just an honor to be her friend and see her achieve so much,” said Babich, who was at Monday night’s signing event. “Marissa is the hardest working person I know. She has been a great friend all of these years.”
It’s not surprising that Christine Babich and Marissa Diescher became best friends at an early age. Tracey and Mike Diescher attended high school with Christine’s parents, Tom and Diane Babich, and the two couples have been good friends for many years.
“I’m looking forward to visiting Marissa in college and going to Penn State football games,” said Christine Babich, who plans to attend either SUNY Albany or SUNY Oneonta.
After Diescher signed her letter, everyone enjoyed some refreshments, including a cake from Flour Power Bakery & Cafe in Livingston Manor. The cake was covered with white icing and the words “Penn State, Congratulations Marissa” and the familiar Nittany Lion logo in blue icing.
Sitting across from the table were some bouquets of flowers that family members and friends gave to Marissa Diescher. One bouquet of red and yellow roses was from her boyfriend, Mike Schmidt, who graduated from Sullivan West Central School in June. He was home for the weekend, but missed Monday night’s signing ceremony because he had to return to Paul Smith’s College. But Mike’s father Steve Schmidt attended the ceremony to congratulate Diescher.

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