Softball Welcomes Four to the Nittany Lion Program
Dec. 14, 2010
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State softball team added four high school stars to the program on Tuesday head coach Robin Petrini announced. Standouts Lauren Anderson (Valencia, Calif.), Marissa Diescher (Livingston Manor, N.Y.), Mackenzie Liss (Mountainside, N.J.) and Alicia Walker (Los Alamitos, Calif.) will play their freshman seasons in Nittany Lion Park during the 2011-12 academic year.
"Needless to say, I am very excited about our 2011 incoming class," Petrini said. "They are four very talented student-athletes that are more than eager to become a part of the Nittany Lion softball program. We truly believe that we have found a solid class that will not only compete in the classroom, but will help us bring a Big Ten Championship to Happy Valley."
Anderson, a powerful hitter and catcher, will join the Nittany Lions from softball-rich southern California. Last season, she was named to the All-Santa Clarita Valley, All-Foothill League and Michelle Carew Memorial All-Tournament teams as a junior.
"We are very excited to have Lauren's offensive power become a part of the Nittany Lion program," said Petrini. "She is solid defensively behind the plate and can play the corners as well. Perhaps her best strength comes on the offensive side of the ball. She can hit to all fields with authority and will definitely provide us with a great amount of power in the heart of our lineup."
Additionally, she helped lead her Hart High School team to the CIF Division I quarterfinals for the third time in as many years after a semifinal showing in 2009 coached by Steve Calendo. She plays her summer ball for the Corona Angels 18 Gold team coached by Marty Tyson helping the squad to a third-place ESPN Rise National Championship showing this past summer.
Diescher was one of the most sought-after pitchers in the northeast as she led her Livingston Manor Central High School squad to the New York Class D title this past spring. The fireballer was named the state's Player of the Year in 2010 and has earned All-State First Team recognition the last two years coached by Kevin Clifford.
"Marissa can flat out throw." Petrini said. "She is one of the hardest pitchers in the region and will become a workhorse for us on the mound. She has great levers and a mindset that is true of a Nittany Lion. Marissa will not be denied and will fight to the last out. She is an incredibly well rounded athlete and is constantly striving to improve her game. We will look to Marissa to step right in and be an impact player in her freshman campaign."
Diescher has gathered All-State honors for the past four years dating back to her middle-school years. An all-around athlete, she has already eclipsed the 1,000-point plateau in basketball while guiding the soccer team to two N.Y. Section 9 Class D titles. Diescher plays her travel ball for the Tri-State Angles who won the Triple Crown National Championship coached by Angelo Matz in 2010.
Patrolling the hot corner will be Liss, an accomplished three-time All-Conference honoree out of Governor Livingston High School. Liss had a breakout junior season with the another All-Conference award while being named to the All-County and All-State Second Teams coached by Rick Iacono, who helped lead the team to the sectional championship. Joe Salvatore coaches the New Jersey Breakers, Liss's summer ball team. Her father, John, is a Penn State graduate.
"Mackenzie comes to us from a very successful summer travel program and a family of Penn Staters," said Petrini. "She is another member of the long line of success stories we have from our summer camps. Mackenzie has a very smooth swing and raw power at the plate. As she continues to develop defensively, we will look to her to contribute to the lineup. Mackenzie bleeds blue and white and we expect that energy to only continue to grow in a Nittany Lion uniform."
A stalwart at the plate, Liss led the squad in doubles, hits and on-base percentage as a junior. She served as captain last season while garnering induction into the Athletic Honors Society as well.
Hailing from Los Alamitos High School, Walker is an outstanding softball athlete and student in the classroom. She notched the Sunset League's Defensive Player of the Year and reigned in First Team All-League honors. Additionally, Walker has had great success with her summer ball team, Southern California Athletics 18U, winning the ESPN Rise National Championship this past summer coached by Bruce Richardson.
"Alicia comes to us from the Premier National Championship summer travel team. Alicia is the definition of a Penn State student-athlete. She is incredibly bright and is a fighter on the field. She is a scrappy player that just always seems to make things happen. We will look to her speed and aggressiveness on the base paths to set the table for the middle of our lineup. In the classroom, she will continue to raise the bar for the Penn State standard."
Walker's summer squad also placed fourth in the 2009 ASA National Championship before she garnered recognition on the Long Beach Press-Telegram Dream Team with Los Alamitos coached by Rob Weil. Walker is a three-time academic Scholar-Athlete while earning the Academic Award of Excellence after two years of posting a perfect 4.0 cumulative grade-point average.
The four future Nittany Lions will be on campus for the 2011-12 academic season and play in Nittany Lion Park during the 2012 season, the second year in which the park will be open. The 2011 year will see the final seasons of Desi Giordano (West Caldwell, N.J.), Jackie Hill (San Jose, Calif.) and Mary Ostman (Northbrook, Ill.) as Penn State opens the inaugural campaign at Nittany Lion Park. The $10.2 million softball-specific complex hosts its first series on March 24 against Buffalo for a doubleheader.
Penn State returns the majority of its offense and all its starting pitching from a team last year that went 29-22 and finished seventh in the Big Ten at 8-11. The Nittany Lions have been to the NCAA Tournament nine times in program history, seven of which have come since 2000. The 2011 season begins on Feb. 18 at the FAU Kick-Off Classic against Tulsa and Massachusetts.
For complete coverage of all the Nittany Lion softball this season, visit GoPSUsports.com.
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