Wagner graduating early; ready to hit diamond at NC

Elly Wagner signs her letter of intent with her parents Robert and Mary Ellyn. Submitted
Elly Wagner signs her letter of intent with her parents Robert and Mary Ellyn. Submitted
Photo by The Herald
Marty Stewart
| Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012, 8:52 p.m.

Elly Wagner announced during her junior year that she would be playing softball for the University of North Carolina.

Things recently changed, though.

She'll still be playing for NC, but she'll be heading for the warmer climate of Chapel Hill sooner than she thought. She will graduate from Fox Chapel Area High School at the end of December and head to Chapel Hill on Jan. 9.

“Donna Papa, the head coach at NC, called me last month and said that one of the catchers on the team had transferred and that there was an opportunity for me to begin my career early,” Wagner said.

“It was overwhelming at the beginning. I made a list of the pros and cons of starting college early and there were many more positives than negatives.”

Wagner will be taking her finals at Fox Chapel Area before Christmas break and then head south.

“I was set academically at Fox Chapel,” she said. “I needed to take English, history and physical education classes and I also took a math course.

“One of the negatives on my list was missing out on some of the senior activities and hanging out with my friends. I also felt bad about leaving the team early.

“They'll be playing in a new section with some of the top teams in the WPIAL like North Allegheny and Shaler. It would've been challenging and fun.”

Still, Wagner said she has enjoyed her senior year, even if it will be shorter than expected.

“I was chosen as homecoming queen and I'll always remember that,” she said.

Wagner thinks she is ready to take on the challenge of playing D-1 softball.

“I've been playing in fall tournaments and I still practice on my own with my dad,” she said. “I've concentrated on lifting and running.

“I've continued to work a lot on my hitting and the mental aspect of the game. I won't be turning 18 until after the season ends and I'll be going up against 20- and 21-year-old experienced players.

“Even before I made the decision to start early, I was planning to play as a freshman. I know I'll have to work for a spot.

“I'll be playing for a team that won the ACC last year and finished in the Top 25 so I have my work cut out for me. I'm excited and ready to contribute.”

Wagner will also have the opportunity to showcase her talents at home in the near future.

Pitt will begin play in the ACC next year.

“I'm looking forward to the opportunity to play in front of my family and friends when we come here to play Pitt,” she said.

Marty Stewart is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-782-2123 or mstewart@tribweb.com.

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