Tahlequah Daily Press

Sports

November 13, 2013

All-State switch

Move to catcher yields top honor for Wright

bjohnson@tahlequahdailypress.com

Obstacles were a constant for Whitney Wright during her high school softball career. One year it was adjusting to softball at a higher class level; the next it was adapting to a new position.

She passed both tests with flying colors.

“Whit came from a 3A school and struggled a little last season,” Tahlequah coach Matt Cloud said of Wright. “But this year she was lights out all year.”

After transferring from Keys prior to her junior year, Wright transitioned right into the void left by Whitney Whittmore at third base. Wright helped solidify Tahlequah’s lineup as the Lady Tigers continued their run of state-tournament appearances.

Poised for a breakout season at third base this year, Wright was called upon to fill the vacancy at catcher. She obliged and was a force in Tahlequah’s batting order once again, while also calling pitches for hurlers, Morgan Tarrance and Lindsay Wade.

Wright capped off her varsity tenure by leading Tahlequah with a .447 batting average. Of Wright’s 59 hits, 21 were for extra base hits (13 doubles, five triples, three home runs).

All that, coupled with her .958 fielding percentage, garnered her All-State honors from the Oklahoma High School Fastpitch Softball Coaches Association. Wright — who was joined by teammates Randee O’Donnell and Marisa Girdner on the All-State team — was the lone catcher selected on the Large East team, which will take on the Large West at the All-State game in June.

“It’s a huge honor to have been picked for this team at catcher,” said Wright, who drove in 38 runs, stole 11 bases and struck out only six times in 152 plate appearances this season.

“I’ve worked so hard at third base, and when I got moved, I knew I’d have to work every harder.”

Wright — who has committed to play softball at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M — was slated to begin the 2013 season at third base. But not long into the season, Cloud went to Wright and asked if she could take over behind the plate.

She did so without hesitation — even if it meant failing to obtain All-State honors.

“At first, yes, then I just didn’t worry a whole lot about it,” Wright said when asked if she worried about not getting an All-State nod because of the position switch.

“I just focused on doing my best for the team.”

Cloud certainly vouched for her.

“She worked hard to get where she is at,” Cloud said.

In Wright’s two-year stint at Tahlequah, the Lady Tigers made two fastpitch state tournament appearances. Tahlequah lost to Chickasha in the first round last year only to extract revenge against the Fighting Chicks this season to advance to the Class 5A semifinals. That, however, is where Tahlequah’s season ended.

A state championship would have been the icing on the cake for Wright and Co., but she said she’s quite satisfied with the way things ended up.

“I wouldn’t trade my senior season for anything,” she said. “I wouldn’t have done anything different. No, I’m not satisfied with going out in the semis. Yes, it would’ve been nice to have won a state title, but I love my team and I had so much fun playing this year.”

As for how Wright found out about the All-State accolade, it was a simple message on her phone from Cloud.

“Coach text me and told me I got picked for All-State,” she said, “and I immediately called all my family. I was so happy.”

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