By Jeanne Sager
LIVINGSTON MANOR In a game where a good pitcher can make all the difference, Marissa Diescher is more than a good pitcher.
She’s close to perfect.
She was a freshman when she pitched a perfect game.
She was a freshman when she added a string of no-hitters to her resume. Six in total, making the Livingston Manor Lady Wildcats softball team a force to be reckoned with in Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association (OCIAA) Division VI.
Diescher’s back on the mound this spring, a sophomore and as dominant as ever.
Among the team’s eight wins is yet another no hitter pitched by the 15-year-old daughter of Tracey and Mike Diescher of the Manor.
That’s right. Fifteen.
School will be over before she turns 16 at the end of June, and Marissa Diescher is already on her way to becoming one of Livingston Manor’s greatest players.
Because it isn’t just softball where the “five-eight-and-a-half, almost five-nine” Diescher (that extra half inch of height counts) has made her name.
Back in February, she scored her 1,000th career point for the Lady Wildcat basketball team and led the league in scoring.
She was named second team all-state for basketball as a freshman.
She’s been named to the Sullivan County Democrat’s Girls’ All- Star Team for soccer as well as the MVP of the paper’s Girls’ Basketball All-Star Team.
They’re honors Diescher relates with a wide grin, but her eyes remain downward. She’s proud, but not too proud.
“It was really exciting, I was really happy,” she says of her perfect game in particular. “But it doesn’t make me feel like I’m better than anyone else.
“I’m not better than anyone else.”
That is Marissa Diescher.
She’s an extraordinary athlete already attracting attention from Division I colleges as a sophomore who still thinks she could use some work.
“She has a lot of natural talent, but she’s probably one of the hardest working athletes I’ve ever worked with,” said Manor girls’ basketball Coach and co-softball Coach Kevin Clifford. That’s in 11 seasons of coaching.
In eighth grade, when Diescher was already playing varsity basketball, Clifford says she was easily mistaken for a senior on the team and that was two years ago.
“She’s always had a natural leadership, she’s always had poise and composure beyond her age,” he noted.
Ask Diescher to describe herself in one word, and she grins.
“Competitive,” she admits. “In everything it’s not just sports, but school . . . sometimes it’s good and sometimes it’s bad!”
And yet, at 15, she’s learned she can’t have it all.
She’s a three-sport athlete for school, plus a member of AAU traveling teams, spending almost every weekend on the road.
But she won’t be valedictorian too. She’s settled for keeping her average above 90.
“As long as I maintain that 90 average, I know I can go where I want to go,” she says.
That 90 average makes her a scholar athlete, the rare combination of mega talent on the field and off. And it takes careful budgeting of time be it wise usage of study halls or late nights pouring over the books to do so.
It’s dedication too, Clifford says, including dedication on the part of Tracey and Mike, who make it a point to keep opening doors for their daughter.
“They’re really great about it,” Marissa said. “They know what I want to do, and they support me in it.”
They support her drive to get better, her incessant need to practice.
Because Diescher is a good athlete and a good student. And an all-around good kid.
She counts friendship as one of the most important things in life, right up there with athletics. She counts teamwork as the most important part of sports.
“A team’s a team,” she says. “If you have people in cliques, it never works.”
This from a pitcher in a game dominated by what happens on the mound. A pitcher who also happens to be hitting .700 in a lineup of what Clifford dubs “very good bats.”
Because Diescher is good, but she’s just there to play.
“Anyone can get better,” she noted. “You don’t have to be the best athlete to get better.
“So many people don’t play because they don’t think they’re good enough,” she said. “But as long as they practice and work hard, I think people should be able to do what they WANT to do.”