WAPELLO, Iowa − Eliza Noa remembers watching college softball as a child hoping to one day be like the players she saw on television.
She took a big step toward her dream of playing at a four-year university Friday by signing a National Letter of Intent to play softball at Southeastern Community College, one month after giving a verbal commitment.
“I feel like I achieved my goal,” Noa said in the Wapello High School Library with family, friends and coaches all in attendance. “I always thought of going to Southeastern and then moving on to a four-year school. I always wanted to be a Blackhawk.”
The Wapello senior said she realized she had a chance to play college softball when she was a sophomore, and she began to gain interest from community colleges during her junior season. Her rocket arm led Wapello to a 20-11 record, as she compiled a 13-11 record to go along with 143 strikeouts and a 2.68 earned run average as the team’s ace.
She received interest from Indian Hills Community College and Century Community College, but had no online recruiting profile set up and little idea how to approach the recruiting process.
Once she got both of those things figured out with the help of her parents and Wapello softball coach Shannon Salazar, the actual decision was easy for Noa. The Blackhawks have a strong softball tradition, most recently going 30-20 in the 2017 season, giving Noa the opportunity to play in high-profile games and get noticed by four-year schools. The icing on the cake, however, was having the opportunity to do that close to home in West Burlington, which is just 28 miles away from Wapello.
“They have a strong softball tradition,” Salazar said. “With it being close to home she’ll continue to have that family support and that safety net to help her adjust to life in college.”
Although Noa said she’s always wanted to be a Blackhawk, she knew for sure after a practice with the team.
“When I was practicing with them and they were talking to me I felt comfortable,” Noa said. “I felt comfortable with them (coaches) from when I first met them.”
The Wapello standout was relieved to sign early in the process so she wouldn’t have to worry about finding a school during her senior season, but she’s already looking forward to what may be in store at Southeastern. For starters, she said she’s excited to play bigger schools and schools from different states and hopes that experience will make her even better.
If all goes according to plan, Noa hopes to sign another National Letter of Intent in two years to play at a four-year school.
“Absolutely (she’s good enough),” Salazar said. “She’s proven herself over the last few seasons at the high school level. We know the ability is there, we have to work on the mental aspect of it and get that developed because college is going to be a whole different ball game.”