Much is right for Pulaski County’s Wright
DUBLIN — Sara Wright is one impressive Pulaski County High School junior.
How come, you ask? Pick ‘em:
Because she can hit a softball halfway to the moon? Or is it she can bench press 225 pounds? Or that she lost weight and
gained athletic ability in inverse proportion? Not to be overlooked, how about considering her longstanding status as her team’s spiritual touchstone?
Any and all of the above is laudable of its own account. But there is more to this pleasant and polite athlete than long bashes and mind-bending bench presses.
Not only can she go deep, she thinks deep.
By means of an introduction, she ranks top-10 in her class and attends Southwest Virginia Governor’s School for Science, Mathematics, and Technology. The Governor’s School is one of 18 magnet schools statewide for gifted students. It is application only for candidates from the cities of Galax and Radford and the counties of Pulaski, Carroll, Giles, Montgomery, Smyth and Wythe.
She was up for one of the 16 slots from her class at Pulaski County. Governor’s School, which is where students spend the first part of their day before returning to their home schools, enrollment is typically around just over 100 students annually.
It is easy to recognize that sizzling beneath that exciting academic environment burns the competitive fire of the students. In other words, any day of the week, you better have game when you show up for class. You don’t and you will be
Who understands old school better than an athlete?
In such atmosphere, Wright had to come up with a plan for a science fair project. Check this out.
“I’m working on an electronic method of measuring the distance on a shot put that would eliminate human error,” she said.
This project description was related by a third party during a subsequent conversation with some guys at baseball practice
down the hill from the Cougars softball field. One of them immediately blurted out, “I can’t even spell that.”
Deep intellect is not required to comprehend that Wright spells trouble whenever she seizes a bat and strides to the right-hand batter’s’ box. Through 15 games not counting Tuesday’s 4-1 setback to River Ridge District rival Cave Spring that snapped the Cougars’ four-game winning streak, Wright was putting up fairy tale numbers: nine home runs, 20 runs batted in, 27 hits, .628 average – all team-leading.
That’s enough to make those who know softball to feel the need to pause and take a seat for a minute. There’s more there, though.
“I know she’s saved us at least five runs at first base,” Pulaski County coach Gina Miano said. said.
Wright can rip it as well as pick it.
“She’s not an all-or-nothing like a home run or zero hitter,” Miano said. “She’s very consistent. She hits the ball very hard. Sometimes it goes out, sometimes it doesn’t, but it’s going to be a real hard hit.”
That is, if the other team has the nerve to pitch to her. There’s no doubt, they’ve been trying to figure out ways to pitch around her.
“Obviously, I don’t like not being able to hit, but I have absolute confidence in my teammates being able to get the big hit to drive me in,” she said.
The confidence is well founded. Kelli Duncan, Brooke Hundley, Jordan Chrisley, and Lauren Foster have combined for 39 RBIs.
Leadoff Chrisley bats .453 and the other three in addition to Carli Brewer are all hitting over .300. All but senior right fielder Foster are juniors.
Some of this helps explains why the Cougars are 10-6, 5-2 and tied for first in the district with Salem going into Friday’s
clash at Blacksburg. With three district game left, this is as late in the season as Pulaski County has been in first
place in Miano’s 15 years on the job and this still may be a team a year away.
Neither the Cougars nor Wright are taking anybody by surprise anymore.
“Let me tell you, she is by far the best hitter we’ve faced all year,” Christiansburg coach Dave Cooper said. “To be honest with you, the first time we played them, we were in a 0-0 game and we pitched to her and gosh she hit the ball over the fence and I think it’s still going. She crushed one against us and we lost 1-0.”
Next time when the teams played May 4, Cooper had a different plan.
“I walked her three of the four times we faced her, even with runners on base.”
That didn’t avert an 8-1 Pulaski County victory, but it may be a hint of things to come.
All this has happened rather fast for Wright. Never mind that she came into the season with two career home runs, both as a freshman, and never having batted higher than .255. In fact, her entire athletic career has changed.
This winter, she joined the indoor track team for the first time and has continued when that sport moved outside this spring. She’ll throw the shot and discus when she is free of softball obligations. There hasn’t been much time to practice her weight throws but she says she’s having a blast and had made a bunch of new friends after being persuaded track was a better choice than her previous second sport basketball. There were fringe benefits to shot and discus, too.
“I got to lift weights more training for the throws and the extra strength has helped my softball,” she said.
In such effort she hoisted the aforementioned 225 bench. Before it’s all over, she may be the strongest female athlete ever at Pulaski County.
That’s part of the story. Another part of it is that she played a lot of out of season travel softball with local team the Virginia Pride last year. That exposure earned her an invitation to join the Carolina Cardinals from Winston-Salem, for
whom she will compete all summer into September.
Add to the athletic and academic success all the double-figure pounds of weight she’s lost simply by ditching the fast food, drinking plenty of water, and playing lots of softball and the complete picture begins to emerge.
Bottom line: Talent and effort makes her a Division I college prospect. Before those choices are faced, there’s a lot of high school ball left to play. Wright is fired up for the stretch run.
“I am so proud of where we came from and where we’re going,” she said.
There’s no doubt Wright is going places and they won’t just be confined to the softball field either.
By Ray Cox
The Roanoke Times | 381-3172
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