Cougs' Monda not your typical baseball player

PULLMAN -- Take the money and run. Read every story that mentions you and search for your name in the headlines. Be outspoken. These are attributes often seen in college baseball players. But the Cougs' Jason Monda is not your typical college baseball student-athlete.

"(Jason Monda) is not motivated by money or playing in the big leagues, and he's not motivated by people writing articles about him and interviewing him," WSU skipper Donnie Marbut said of the 22-year-old senior. "He'd much rather let everyone else get the attention and just go about his business the way he does."

That's not just coachspeak. Monda proved his priorities in turning down a whole lot of cabbage.

The Philadelphia Phillies selected Monda in the sixth round of the 2013 draft (181st pick). Major League Baseball's slot value for a sixth-round pick in the 2012 draft ranged from about $200,000 to $250,000.

Monda chose to postpone his first professional paycheck and return to Pullman for his senior season, mainly so he could finish his degree.

"I've always been focused on school and that in the addition to baseball is quite the load," the zoology major said. "Not to mention being three-quarters of my way to a degree made it kind of hard to want to leave.

The load of his senior year classes cuts into his time on the diamond. Because of all the labs and classes Monda has to take in order to graduate in May, he almost every day after his teammates have begun work.

"It's tough when you're coming out to practice late every day and you have to decide whether to get your swings or your throwing in," Monda said.

His lack of time in the cages has been noticeable in the box scores this season. Monda entered his senior season boasting a career .284 batting average but is hitting just .154 this year.

But Monda also defies the stereotype as a true "two-way" player. In addition to playing outfield and occasionally first base, the 6-foot-4 lefty also pitches for the Cougs. And Monda has shined on the mound his senior season.

Among all Cougar pitchers who have started a game this season, Monda has the lowest batting average against (.241) and the best earned run average (2.45). Last season, Monda was one of 10 finalists for the John Olerud Award, given annually to the nation's top two-way player.

"I love doing both and there's a great balance between hitting and pitching," Monda said. "If you're struggling with one but doing great with the other, you're still doing something to help the team win."

MONDA'S SUCCESS ON the mound seems peculiar considering that hitting is in his blood.

His father, Greg Monda, was a star on the diamond for the Cougs during the early ‘80's. The elder Monda was a two-time All-Pac-10 infielder and left WSU as the school leader in career batting average before playing professionally for six seasons.

Greg was instrumental in the baseball paths of Jason and his twin brother Michael Monda, a Cougar walk on. But the future is anyone's guess. On one hand, Jason could choose to pursue a professional baseball career.

And then there is another career move Jason could take, one that would coincide with his decision to return to WSU for his senior year.

"The medical school thing is something I want to do and as I've gotten into my upper division classes I've become more intrigued by it," Monda said. "Hopefully by the time May and June roll around, I'll have a clearer idea of what I'm going to do."

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