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Billings West's Nieto among MSU Billings softball signees

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Posted at 8:44 AM, Nov 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-20 10:44:33-05

(Editor's note: MSUB Athletics release)

BILLINGS, Mont. – Montana State University Billings softball head coach Lisa McKinney announced Billings West product Marleigh Nieto, Teagan Seeton of Mesa, Ariz. and Kayla Stoker of Meridian, Idaho all signed their letters of intent to join the ‘Jackets in fall 2022.

The trio of current high school seniors will join Malia Cavan, Madelyn Elbert and Kayli Mueller as members of MSUB’s 2022 softball recruiting class, which includes six athletes from six states, joining Malia Cavan of Woodinville, Wash., Madelyn Elbert of Arvada, Colo. and Kayli Mueller of Sparks, Nev.

Marleigh Nieto

Position: Outfielder

Hometown: Billings, Montana

Previous School: Billings West High School

Marleigh Nieto is MSUB’s first local signee of the 2022 class, and she will reunite with her high school teammate Lauren Blaschak in the fall of 2022. As a junior, Nieto hit .474 and was a first-team all-state and all-conference leftfielder, as she helped Billings West win an Eastern Division AA title. During summer season, she hit a team-high eight home runs.

So far, Nieto’s season bests include a .595 batting average with a 1.651 OPS and 41 RBIs. She, along with Malia Cavan, are MSUB’s lone lefties in the incoming freshman class.

Outside of high school softball, Nieto was named a Softball Factory All-American and a Regional All-Star, plus she has played at several USA Preps showcases and club tournaments throughout her career. In the classroom, Nieto is a member of the National Honor Society, won the principal’s award and made the dean’s list.

Coach McKinney on Nieto: “Marleigh is a left-handed bat with power. She has been in the top of the lineup for high school and summer to set up the middle of the lineup for RBI’s. She will also bring some more speed to our outfield.

Nieto on choosing MSUB: “I chose MSUB because I love Billings! I wanted to continue my softball career at home with family and friends around. The environment and atmosphere while walking around campus felt welcoming, it was very positive and it felt like a fun community. When I went for my official visit, the coaches and players truly made me feel like part of the family; I loved how they pushed the team to get the best from them. I have not yet decided what I want to major in and MSUB has a broad range of majors to choose from, I know that these academic opportunities provided by MSUB will help me reach my future goals. I feel very blessed that I get to continue playing in my hometown and I am super excited for this journey and to become a Yellowjacket!”

Teagan Seeton

Position: Utility

Hometown: Mesa, Arizona

Previous School: Westwood High School

Hailing from Mesa, Arizona, Seeton comes to MSUB as a two-time first team all-region selection out of Westwood High School, which plays in Arizona’s largest 6A classification. By committing to play college softball at MSUB, Seeton follows in the footsteps of oldest sister, Stacia, who played four years of Division I softball at Bradley University from 2018-2021.

Outside of high school softball, Seeton was an outside hitter for Westwood’s varsity volleyball team and was an honorable mention all-conference selection this fall. Playing for AZ Force club softball, Seeton won a state U18 softball title in 2021,

Coach McKinney on Seeton: “Teagan is a well-versed athlete. She is athletic and has the ability to play the outfield and middle infield. She is a power right-handed hitter that also has some speed. Her versatility will give us options as a team.”

Seeton on choosing MSUB: “I chose MSUB because it offers a great health and human performance program to get me closer to becoming a physical therapist. I also loved and enjoyed the coaching staff and my future teammates. Everyone made me feel at home the second I walked onto the campus. I am excited to see what my future holds at MSUB.”

Kayla Stoker

Position: Catcher

Hometown: Meridian, Idaho

Previous School: Bishop Kelly High School

Joining Alexis Tovar as one of two Idahoans on MSUB’s roster, catcher Kayla Stoker comes to Billings from a Bishop Kelly team that recently had one of the best prep softball seasons in Idaho history. As a team captain on the 2021 4A state championship-winning team, Stoker was a team captain and a second-team All-Southern Idaho Conference selection for the Bishop Kelly Knights. Stoker helped Bishop Kelly set not only a school record, but also the Idaho state all-classification record with 70 home runs during the Knights’ title run. Additionally, Stoker chipped in 10 of those home runs while only committing one error.

Prior to Bishop Kelly, Stoker played softball for one year at Eagle High School as a freshman in 2018-19. Her sophomore season was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Outside of softball, Stoker is a three-time honor roll recipient, is a member of the National Honor Society and won Bishop Kelly High School’s Joe Good Memorial Award.

Coach McKinney on Stoker: “Kayla is a strong catcher behind the plate. She has a great relationship with her pitchers and encourages them to do better. She has a strong bat as well. We look forward to having her lead this team behind the plate.”

Stoker on choosing MSUB: “I chose MSUB because of its beautiful location, the amazing softball coaches, the family-like culture of the softball team and the relative location to Idaho. I love the outdoors along with the cold and snow. Billings provides all of this.”

Malia Cavan

Position: Outfielder

Hometown: Woodinville, Washington

Previous School: Woodinville High School

A highly decorated player on the Washington Ladyhawks club softball team, Malia Cavan comes to MSUB after posting a .457/.529/.682 slash line with a 1.291 OPS and 17 RBIs. This past summer, Cavan was an OnDeck Jamboree Showcase selection; prior to that, she helped the Ladyhawks win the Northwest Regional Championship and was a Fastpitch Northwest selection in 2020. Throughout her extensive club softball career, Cavan has also participated in several USA Preps Showcases and tournaments as well.

Coach McKinney on Cavan: “Malia will add speed to the outfield as well as a slapper to our lineup. She is a true lefty that will add some variety to our team. She is quickly growing into a vocal leader on her teams and we look forward to having her continue her leadership skills as a Yellowjacket.”

Cavan on choosing MSUB: “I have no doubt that I will receive a top education by attending MSUB and I also get to play the sport I love, softball. The other key factors included meeting the coaches and teammates when I had my official visit. I could see myself as a student on campus and everything about MSUB – the coaches and the team – made me feel that this is the place I needed to be. I have always been told when you visit schools you will know right away if that’s where you want to be, and that was MSUB.”

Madelyne Elbert

Position: Middle infielder

Hometown: Arvada, Colorado

Previous School: Pomona High School

Playing both varsity softball and baseball for Pomona High School, Madelyn Elbert was a first-team 5A All-Jefferson County league selection during her senior season this fall. Earlier in her career, she was a two-time second-team all-conference selection in softball. In the classroom, Elbert was a first-team Academic All-Conference awardwinner as a junior, a four-time academic letter high honor roll selection, plus she was named the most outstanding junior by her school’s science department this past year.

Coach McKinney on Elbert: “Madelyne has a baseball background and has a high softball IQ. She moves smoothly on defense and has a quick release. As a hitter, she is disciplined and puts the ball in play often. Her upbeat personality will easily contribute to this team.”

Elbert on choosing MSUB: “MSUB felt like the perfect fit. When I attended my first official visit, everyone was very welcoming and family-like; in a sense, I felt like I was part of the school already. I loved the team chemistry and how the coaches not only valued my athletic abilities, but also acknowledged my dedication to my future career in science. I appreciate that I will be given the opportunity to thrive not only athletically, but also academically. Additionally, on my first visit, the school was in the process of finishing a state-of-the-art science building, which spoke to my passion for science. I picked MSUB because I felt valued, welcomed and most of all, felt like I was home.”

Kayli Mueller

Position: Utility

Hometown: Sparks, Nevada

Previous School: Spanish Springs High School

A three-year varsity letterwinner from Sparks, Nevada, Kayli Mueller was a first-team 5A All-Region selection as a junior in 2021 and has won two academic letter awards. As a junior, Mueller batted .365, had 19 RBIs, plus hit eight doubles and one home run. This past spring, Mueller helped Spanish Springs post a 20-1 record en route to winning the program’s third-straight 5A Northern Region Championships. She was also named her JV team’s offensive player of the year as a freshman in 2019.

Coach McKinney on Mueller: “Kayli is a utility player that could work in the outfield or in the middle infield for us. She has a very strong arm and finds outs when other teams make baserunning mistakes. She always finds a way to get on base by a hit or with her plate discipline.”

Mueller on choosing MSUB: “I chose MSUB for several reasons. I fell in love with the area after attending a softball camp over the summer. I thought Billings was really pretty and it reminded me of Reno. What I wanted to major in also helped me in my decision, because MSUB has radiology, giving me an opportunity to continue playing softball while majoring in something medical-related to push me in the right direction. While at the softball camp, I realized I wanted to continue my future at MSUB because I loved the program, the team and how the coaching staff worked to hold the team to a high standard. Everyone was so inviting, and I instantly knew MSUB is where I wanted to be.”