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ND's Wright wants trip to state tourney

by Mike Nutter

SPORTS WRITER

Rushing for more than 1,000 yards, gaining nearly 2,000 all-purpose yards and earning Class A football all-state honors would seem like a pretty hard act to follow.

Not necessarily. Not if you're Jeremy Wright.

Wright, a senior three-sport standout at Notre Dame, is doing just that. His encore performance in the spring has been equally impressive.

Consider: On the mound, Wright has been the most dominating pitcher this season. His 5-0 mark is tops in Harrison County as are his 44 strikeouts. Already this season, he has thrown a no-hitter and a two-hitter.

At the plate, his .444 batting average is sixth in Harrison County, while his four home runs are tied for the lead. He leads the county in RBIs with 18 and has five doubles and two triples.

Yet, Wright shakes those stats off. The one most important to him is the Irish's win total. Notre Dame is off to a 10-3 start with wins over Class AAA Hedgesville, previously ranked-Class A No. 3 Huntington St. Joe's and Harrison County rival South Harrison.

Wright, though, isn't satisfied.

"Ever since I've been here, we've won 20 games each season," Wright said. "That's something I want to do again. I think this team has really surprised everyone.

"I don't know if anyone thought we could do some of the things we have already, but I think we're still coming along each game and getting better each game. The thing with this team is that there's no one arguing with each other. Everyone gets along because we all want to try to get to the state (tournament)."

A four-year starter for coach Mark Starkey, Wright has played just about every position. He has started at catcher, played a few infield positions and last season made a name for himself as a shortstop. This season, Wright made the transition to centerfield, playing the position for the first time.

It's this versatility that Starkey said will help make Wright a standout at the college level, too.

"There's no question he's had an outstanding season so far," Starkey said. "He's done well just about everywhere. He's hit the ball, he's 5-0 on the mound and he's been flawless in the field. He plays a lot of positions, and he plays them well.

"Every year I could see improvement in Jeremy, but this is definitely a nice way to start your senior year. I would probably say in all the years I've coached here, Jeremy is probably one of the top three or four best overall baseball players I've ever had."

Although he has been recruited in both football and baseball, Wright says he will likely opt for the latter. Several West Virginia Conference schools have expressed interest in him, but Wright said he has no interest in playing two sports. For now, he'll just stick with baseball.

"I really don't want to be beat up all my life," Wright said. "Football can do that to you. I think baseball is my best shot in college. I like all three sports, but I think I like playing baseball the best.

"I'm having a lot of fun doing it and to tell you the truth, I'm kind of surprised about some of the things I've done so far, but the good thing is that the team is winning, and I'll do whatever is best for them."

Sports writer Mike Nutter can be reached at 626-1444.

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