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STATE COLLEGE, Pa., December 21, 2000 - Penn State softball head coach Robin Petrini announced six recruits have signed national letters of intent during the early period. Melissa Beseres, Leigh Murray, Scarlett Neal, Mandy Nuxoll, Tina Skelly and Stephanie Viola will all join the Nittany Lions beginning in 2002.
Melissa Beseres, who hails from Golden Valley, Minn., will boost the Nittany Lion pitching staff. She was named all-conference and all-region three times, while being selected all-metropolitan area and all-state twice. A member of the Mankato Peppers summer club team, Beseres boasted a 0.44 earned runs average and 60 wins over the last two summers, while leading the squad to the national tournament. She also pitched eight no hitters, including two perfect games. Beseres will graduate from Armstrong High in the spring.
An outfielder from Fairfax Station, Va., Leigh Murray comes to Penn State from Woodson High. She helped her team to four metropolitan area championship titles and was selected first team all-Fairfax Journal once. Murray is also very active in summer play, having played with the Virginia Shamrocks the last four summers. While with the Shamrocks, her squad was the 1997 National PONY Champion and the national runner-up in 1999. A member of the National Honor Society, Murray is also an honor roll student.
Scarlett Neal is a utility player and will graduate from Edison High in Huntington Beach, Calif. A four-year letterman, she was named first team all-Sunset League in 2000 as well as Defensive Player of the Year in the same year and Offensive Player of the Year in 1999. A member of one of the premier summer teams in the country, Haning's Batbusters, Neal can play catcher, first base or the outfield. Her summer team placed second in the national tournament on two occasions and fourth on another.
Mandy Nuxoll will be able to fill in for the Nittany Lions in any number of positions in the infield or outfield. A native of Kelso, Wash., Nuxoll is a senior at Kelso High. A member of the 1998 AAAA Washington State Championship team, she has helped her squad to the state or regional tournament in 1997 and 1998.
Tina Skelly and Stephanie Viola both hail from the Keystone State. Skelly is a senior at Hempfield High and is from Greensburg, Pa. She will add depth and talent to the pitching staff. Hailing from the same high school as Jaci Kalp, Penn State's all-time strikeout and wins leader, Skelly was recognized as Athlete of the Week by Fox 53 Television and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and was named Athlete of the Year by the Post Gazette. A power pitcher, she helped her team to the PIAA state championship crown.
Penn State's sixth recruit is Viola who comes from Minersville, Pa. A utility player from Minersville High, she was named league Most Valuable Player in 2000, while being named all-area first team the past two seasons. Selected the Rookie of the Year in 1998, she was also a Minersville Area District Scholar-Athlete. While playing with the Black Widows summer team, Viola hit for a .435 average with 15 stolen bases. She also posted an on-base percentage of .510.
The Nittany Lions made their first trip to the NCAA Regional Tournament last season since 1985, after a third-place showing in the Big Ten Conference. Penn State will open the 2001 slate at the Aggie Invitational hosted by Texas A&M from February 16-18.