In the shortened 2020 softball season, Penn State Behrend’s Marissa Torretti was off to a great start. The junior outfielder from DuBois Area High School was hitting .276 with a .400 on-base percentage. She was coming off a selection to the second team All-Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference (AMCC) after hitting .305 in 39 games in 2019.
(Photo courtesy Penn State Behrend Athletics)
Behrend graduated a lot of veteran leadership in 2019, and Torretti was someone who was stepping up and emerging as a leader for a fairly young Penn State Behrend Lions team. Though her junior season was cut short, the former DuBois Beaver dual-sport athlete chooses to see the positives in her life.
For starters, Torretti is managing one of the tougher quests a student-athlete at Penn State Behrend can take on; studying plastics engineering and playing a sport. While some have been able to manage both over the course of time, these people are truly a rare breed. Torretti and her classmate Emily Archer are two young women who both study plastics engineering and participate in sports.
“I have had some nights in the lab being awake till two or three in the morning, but I see these nights as a chance to make memories with classmates and friends as well.”
Torretti is someone who chooses to see the brightness in every glimmer of doubt or cloud of despair.
Her perspective is the way it is because of her parents Cheryl and Gregory Torretti. Some years ago, the family was given the news that Gregory was diagnosed with Cerebellar Atrophy, a condition that slowly causes people to lose coordination and the ability to walk freely.
“My dad was a very passionate athlete, so I took it into my hands to give him what he loves. I played travel softball and played mostly locally and regionally to allow him to enjoy the trips and the times with us. I have always loved by never taking anything for granted because you never know when something can be taken away in the blink of an eye.”
In addition to her dad, her mom truly serves as her rock.
“She shaped me into who I am today and showed me the true way to be selfless. She works a rigorous work schedule, but she spent so many weekends driving me to softball games and tournaments. She did it all while taking care of us. She is a superhero to me.”
Torretti played for PA Phantoms along with a collection of girls from all over Western and Central Pennsylvania. This group became like a family and would allow Torretti to travel with other families when needed to practices and tournaments. The team fared well and produced a great deal of college talent. The DuBois product had various options on where she could take her talents, including Geneva College, Pitt-Johnstown, and of course, Penn State Behrend.
“I really wanted to be a chemical engineer at first, but my mom convinced me to take a trip to Behrend to check out the plastics program. Behrend was actually my last choice, but after seeing the one of a kind plastics lab and meeting the team, I knew Behrend was the right place for me.”
So far, the decision to go to Behrend has made a great difference in her life as she has not just succeeded on the field but has also been superb as an engineering student. She is a Behrend Honors student as well as an inductee into the National Society for Leadership and Success. Being busy is not just a part of Torretti; it truly is who she is.
“Back in high school, I would go to school, go to practice, get extra work in, go to work, then do homework until it was time to go to sleep. Doing this in high school prepared me for what college was going to be like.”
Torretti is also more than a jock and a scholar, however. She also can play the piano and is looking forward to playing Christmas songs as we near the 2020 holiday season.
“I think music taught me how to be more disciplined, organized, and also how to better manage my time. I think that it also taught me how to be committed to something and wanting to do something well.”
So far in the 2020-2021 season, the Lions have been able to practice some and play some intrasquad scrimmages. She is hopeful for a 2021 season but understands if one does not happen.
“I choose to stay positive during this time,” said the Behrend Lions outfielder. “We have a great core of players back, and I am hopeful we will get to play some games this spring.”
Coming to Behrend, Torretti was a pure hitter and batted just like most hitters do. After her first season, she decided it was time to make a change and to become a slapper, a role she has embraced well.
Being a slapper allows her to hit at the top or near the bottom of the lineup and also fairs well for the Lions’ on-base percentage. Being a solid slapper does not always mean having the best average, but finding ways to get on base is the biggest goal of any slap hitter.
“I watched hours of videos on myself and others to get better. I also worked extra with Carson Hauser and Coach Clark because they know a good amount about how to transition someone to this style of hitting.” In her last 50 games, Torretti has proved the transition was worth it with an on-base percentage of .383 as opposed to the .189 OBP she had in her first collegiate season.
Torretti also became good friends with Mount Aloysius College graduate Kate Little who served as an amazing leader for the Mounties during her four-year career.
“She has become such a hype person and was fundamental in me becoming a better and more confident player. She pushes me to be the best I can be, and I have never seen anyone play with the same intensity and leadership as her. She always knows what to say and how to get me to work harder.”
When asking the college senior what is next for her, she is hoping to locate employment in the Pittsburgh area in the product development and sales aspect of plastics engineering. Her technical sales and operations and supply chain management minors, along with her certificate in enterprise resource planning and SAP certificate, will suit her well in addition to her engineering degree.
Covestro is where she was planning on interning for the summer of 2020, but unfortunately, the opportunity was canceled because of COVID-19. Regardless, she sees this as a potential company she can start her career with.
While the Clearfield County native is sure to make an impact in her career, she also wants to coach softball in her future as well.
“Any way I can help people become a better player or even learn to be a slap hitter, that would be great to me. Just having the chance to share my knowledge with others will mean a lot when that time comes.”
While Torretti is currently the only college athlete in the family, she is not the only one as her older sister Kristina is a Seton Hill University softball alum and also a former coach of hers during travel ball. Her older sister Alisha also attended Seton Hill and played tennis for the Griffins. Younger sister Emma is determined to become a collegiate athlete like each of her older three sisters as well. The Torretti family has always been big into sports, and softball was not always the only sport she was considering playing in college. She was a very accomplished tennis player at DuBois, but shoulder and labrum problems caused her to play less and focus more on just softball.
Through it all, Torretti is one of the toughest yet kindest people on the campus of Penn State Behrend right now. She is someone who plays the game of softball with such love and passion, and her smile is contagious and noticeable to all. When asking her how she is able to manage everything in her life, she gave an amazing response.
“You just have to have that commitment. Preparation and time management is key. I think a day by day approach to every aspect in my life is how I am able to stay consistent in my life in all aspects.”