By BOB ETTINGER

For the Star Beacon

Edgewood senior softball player Jill Moga decided back in October that West Virginia Wesleyan College in Buckhannon, W.Va., was the place she wanted to go to further her education.

She made it official when she signed her national letter of intent to play softball for the Division II Bobcats on April 19. ; ;

"I was so happy," Moga said. "I loved the school. It's in a cute, small town near where the 12 miners died. I knew at the beginning of the school year where I was going to go. I probably knew well before anybody else in my class knew where they were going.

"I was interested in going there even before I thought about softball. I didn't want to base my decision on softball. I want to get a good education. When the coach, Steve Warner, told me he was interested in me playing for him, I couldn't tell you a better feeling."

Moga, a first baseman-designated player for the Warriors, will be getting a partial aca

demic scholarship and a partial athletic scholarship from the college. The 4.0 student will be getting $12,000 for her academics and $6,000 for playing softball, which will help pay the nearly $27,000-a-year tuition.

"I visited Tiffin, Seton Hill (Pa.), and the University of Pennsylvania and through the recruiting process, I found West Virginia Wesleyan costs a lot less. I fell in love with the school when I went down for the recruiting weekend," she said. "I loved the University of Pennsylvania, but financially, it's a lot less to go to West Virginia Wesleyan. It's like $42,000 a year to go to Pennsylvania."

Moga, the daughter of Tim and Pam and the sister of Edgewood sophomore Katie Moga, will double major in communications and political science with an eye toward attending law school. ; ;

"I wanted to go into corporate law," Moga said. "I had a mentorship at the juvenile courthouse in Ashtabula this year, so I'm keeping my options open."

The size of the school, about 1,500 students, is something Moga looks at as helpful in her pursuit of a college education. ; ;

"I think there's a 14-to-1 student to teacher ratio," Moga said. "I like to get into discussions and be involved in the classes. I need the attention in class, that's a big thing for me. At first, I didn't think I'd like it at all. Then some people I know started telling me it'd be a great fit for me."

Carrying a double major while playing softball should only be a small hurdle for Moga, who has as full a slate as possible at Edgewood. Her 4.0 grade-point average ranks her first in her class and in the running for class valedictorian, which will be decided by who has the most credits. She is also treasurer for the National Honor Society, president of Students Against Drunk Driving, president of the pep club, a student columnist for the Star Beacon, member of Youth Leadership of Ashtabula County, a member of student council, a CCD teacher's aide at Mount Carmel Church, a member of Spanish club and a member of the service club. She also won the Archie Griffin Sportsmanship Award and the Principal's Award as a junior.

"I'm always extremely busy, so for me, it will be nice to get my own schedule," Moga said. "I want to step back and not be as involved. I love to act, so when I go there, I want to act. I think I'll be able to balance my schedule. I'm pretty good at being organized and time management is something I'm good at."

Warner and the rest of the softball team are big reasons Moga chose to attend the school 60 miles south of Morgantown, W.Va.

"The coach is an approachable guy, he's family oriented and nice," Moga said. "But you can see how on the field he can be very intense. He wants to be a father figure to all the girls. I stayed the night with one of the players and at a dinner, I got to meet the team. The team is close and I loved that. It's a great place to play softball and get an education as well. The coach's nickname is Big Daddy. He's a great guy. Being with the girls on the team, I got a true sense of who he was because I heard it straight from them. It was the same as the impression I had of him."

Moga is certainly stepping into a situation where she could receive a considerable amount of playing time. The Bobcats will be graduating seven seniors from this year's squad. ; ;

"It will be sort of a rebuilding year next year," Moga said. "They'll have five or six open starting positions. They carry 16 girls on the roster and there are six coming in. There's a lot open and there's definitely a good chance I'll play."

A position switch might be in the works for Moga, who also sees that as a plus.

"I'll probably play in the outfield," Moga said. "I've played a little outfield in travel ball. The only freshman on the team plays first base. It's not settled that she'll play there next year, I don't think that's her first position. I'm excited. I've pretty much always played first base and I really like the outfield. I'm looking forward to the challenge of having to learn something new."

Ettinger is a freelance writer from Ashtabula.

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