Veteran pitcher adds versatility to the baseball field

Senior+pitcher+Jason+Monda+prepares+for+a+practice+hit+at+a+Baseball+practice%2C+Sunday%2C+Jan.+26.

Senior pitcher Jason Monda prepares for a practice hit at a Baseball practice, Sunday, Jan. 26.

Chris Shaw | Evergreen Baseball reporter

          Some pitch, others play outfield, but Jason Monda of the Cougar baseball team knows how it feels to play both at the college level. 

    Monda was originally recruited as an outfielder by WSU, but in his junior year he decided to ask the pitching coach to give him a shot on the mound. Since then he has played both positions, just like one of his favorite professional players, John Olerud. 

            “I liked the way (Olerud) played the game, like a smooth swing and a level-headed guy,” Monda said. “He pitched and played a position in college which was something that I always aspired to do.” 

            Last season, Monda batted .294 with seven home runs, but when he pitched, he didn’t allow opposing hitters to do much at the plate. In 16 appearances, Monda posted a 1.57 ERA, which was the lowest on the team last season. 

            For him, those performances have come somewhat naturally. Head Coach Donnie Marbut said he rarely sees Monda at practice and that he plays better the less he practices. Marbut said Monda is diligent with his time when he does come to practice, but in Monda’s case, the coach said, “less is more.”

            “Jason is probably, in my coaching career, the most talented player I’ve ever coached so maybe that’s why he can get away with it,” Marbut said. 

            However, Marbut made it clear that Monda has an exceptional reason for why he doesn’t make many appearances at practice. Monda is majoring in pre-med and wants to pursue a career in the medical field after college. His class schedule keeps him very busy so he is forced to make the most of his time whether he is in school or on the field. 

            When he is on the field, Monda said he finds both aspects of the game rewarding. 

            “I definitely like doing both. You get a balance of certain things,” Monda said. “If your swing is struggling a little bit and you’re pitching well, then you’ve got something to go to. It keeps your mind busy and keeps you from focusing too much on one thing, and getting bogged down by that.”

Marbut said having players who can play multiple positions helps when a team travels because those players can be used in different ways. 

            “There are lots of players that do both but there probably aren’t a lot of players in the country who do it as well as Jason,” Marbut said. 

            Olerud wasn’t Monda’s only role model growing up, and he wasn’t the only player he knew who played college baseball at WSU. Monda’s dad, Greg, played for WSU during his college career. 

            “I’ve kind of always been around baseball, and family’s always been really big for me and my brothers and parents,” Monda said. “I feel like that tight-knit group that we had early on just has carried over until now.”

            Monda also grew up playing baseball with his two brothers. His twin, Michael, plays for the Cougars now, and they are both seniors this year. Jason started at WSU as a freshman, while his brother Michael played at Lower Columbia College for two years before joining Jason in Pullman. 

            “When you’re brothers, you’ve got a special bond and you’ve got to know how to push each other and how you can use that relationship to better each other as a player and another person,” Monda said. 

            The dual-threat player spent so much time around baseball that he devoted most of his time to that sport once he got into high school. Monda said he played basketball a lot in his childhood, but that fizzled once he got to high school. 

            “Looking back, I wish maybe I would have played basketball in high school, just for the fun of it but I can’t go back,” Monda said. 

            He also would not choose to go back on his decision to go to WSU. 

            After traveling to all the other campuses in the Pac-12, Monda said those campuses are nice too but he knows he made the right choice in going to WSU. The sense of community in Pullman has made being a Cougar a huge part of who he is now that he is a senior, he said. 

            “Since day one, I was always a Coug fan, just coming over here and watching football games,” Monda said. “It was kind of just in my blood so when it came down to it, I didn’t hesitate to commit here.”

            Monda wanted to make sure that the school he chose fit the academic program he wanted, and once he found out that WSU worked with his major, he became a Cougar like the rest of his family. 

            No matter what he decides to do or where he decides to do it, Monda continues to be a Jason-of-all-trades on and off the field here at WSU, where his family and his role model, John Olerud, have left their mark before him.