Women's Softball Coaching Staff - Intercollegiate Athletics - Penn State Altoona

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Women's Softball

Coaching Staff

Joe Merilli headshot

Joe Merilli

Head Coach, Women's Softball

Office: Adler Athletic Complex

Phone: 814-949-5234

Email: JPM6099@psu.edu

Joe Merilli is in his second year at the helm of the Lady Lions softball team at Penn State Altoona.

In Merilli's first season as head coach in 2016, the Lady Lions finished with a 27-11 overall record and a 15-3 Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference record, which helped the team earn a tie for the regular season conference championship. Merilli and the Lady Lions produced the 2016 AMCC Player of the Year, catcher Clarissa Keller, and first team All-AMCC pitcher, Kate Burge. The team was second in the conference in earned run average (1.99) and fielding percentage (.958), and it also finished first in the AMCC in stolen bases (66) and sacrifice bunts (36).

Merilli began coaching fastpitch softball in 1995 and has been coaching at the high school, collegiate, travel ball, and recreation levels since that time. He started the first junior high softball program at Altoona’s Bishop Guilfoyle High School in 2003-2004, then became head coach of the Lady Marauders varsity squad from 2006-2011. Merilli’s Bishop Guilfoyle varsity teams compiled a 59-12 record from 2007-2009 and earned the only District 6 title and PIAA Western Final appearance in school history.

Merilli was also the head coach of the Pittsburgh Power girls fastpitch softball program from 2005-2009.

In 2012, Merilli joined the coaching staff at New York University-Polytechnic as a pitching coach. In his first year with the Blue Jays, the team’s earned run average dropped from over 3.00 runs per game to under 2.00 runs per game and was ranked 28th in the country among all NCAA Division III schools.

After two seasons at NYU-Polytechnic, Merilli returned to Bishop Guilfoyle in 2014-2015 to take over a team that was 0-45 the previous three seasons, and he helped rebuild the program to a competitive level in just one year. Playing in the Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference, the Lady Marauders won their first three games of the season before suffering a heartbreaking 6-5 loss in the PIAA Class A District playoffs.

Merilli is a 1981 graduate of Altoona Area High School and the Altoona Career and Technology Center with a certificate in Scientific Data Processing. He graduated in 1985 from Penn State Altoona with a degree in Computer Science, and he is currently a partner at PS Solutions with offices in Altoona and Pittsburgh.

Merilli resides in Altoona with his wife, Becky, and has three daughters, Kristin, Miranda, and Jennie Jo.

Assistant Coaches

Jeff McNelis headshot

Jeff McNelis

Jeff McNelis is the assistant/hitting coach for Penn State Altoona softball, and he is entering his eighth year with the program in 2017. He started his career in baseball and softball at the age of eight and has remained involved in these sports for the past 60 years.

During McNelis' time with Penn State Altoona softball, the team has compiled an overall record of 191-91 with a .677 winning percentage and a .326 combined team batting average during that span. Highlights of his tenure with the program have included assisting the Lady Lions' two Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference championships (2013 and 2014), as well as serving as the program's head coach for its 2015 Eastern College Athletic Conference Division III South Region championship. As McNelis has said, “I’ve found coaching at the college level to be challenging, but very satisfying and rewarding.”

Coaching at Penn State Altoona is a coming home of sorts for McNelis. As a student at Penn State Altoona for one year, he was a pitcher for the baseball team. McNelis graduated from Penn State University Park three years later with a degree in Forest Science.

McNelis turned from playing to coaching when his oldest son began playing baseball, and he made the switch to softball when his daughter Hilary began playing softball in seventh grade for Tyrone High School. Hilary went on to play softball for four years at Saint Francis University.

McNelis is also a coach, on a volunteer basis, at all levels at Tyrone High School.