Unexpecting senior comes up clutch

Senior outfielder Dusty Wright scampers to third base in last week’s home game against Marcos de Niza. The Pumas won the game, 7-3.

After being demoted to Junior Varsity last year, Dusty Wright was in a position many people consider to be athletic purgatory.  Since then, Wright has certainly beaten the odds fighting to make a startling comeback.  Now one of the key components in the Varsity lineup, Wright boasts the best average on the team (.418) and has become one of the best outfielders in the East Valley. Ironically, he spent his first two and a half years in high school as an infielder.

Junior Varsity coach Jarrett Pack worked with Wright last season, after Wright’s struggles at third base earned him a demotion.  Pack explained that the key to building him into the Varsity weapon he is this year was “building his confidence, and letting him know that he has great potential.”

Pack also stated that, “He worked really hard on hitting the ball the other way, offensively; and defensively he worked on out fielding which has really shown this year. He’s got a great arm.”

The coaching staff, including head coach Shane Hilstrom and Pack, moved Wright to right field, with hopes that he would be able to use his athleticism and cannon of an arm.

“I wasn’t where I wanted to be last year,” Wright said, “[that’s why] I took thousands of hacks in the cage and spent countless hours in the gym.”

This season Wright earned the starting job in right, and when in extra innings against Basha (April 5), he fielded a ground ball with the game-tying run sprinting towards home, Wright launched a near-perfect missile to catcher Brady Weiss to record the game’s final out and secure the win.

“It felt good to be able to make a big play for my team, especially when it counted for so much,” Wright explained.

Season Update

As the season wound down the Pumas cooled off, going 3-4 in the month of April, and 4-8 since spring break (as of press time), much different than the team’s 12-2 start. Their current record was 16-10 heading into the last week of the season, with hopes of the postseason all but diminished.

Hilstrom commented on the team’s performance, “[the games we’ve lost] wasn’t thanks to lack of effort. The kids are playing as hard as they can, and that’s all you can ask for.”

As of press time, the Pumas sat at No. 31 – only the top-24 teams advance to the state tournament.

“We’ve got to get some timely hits,” Hilstrom said. “We need hits with runners on base.”