The ‘Wright’ choice

Published 9:39 pm Thursday, January 26, 2012

After a fantastic 2011 season in which he led the Pirates with 13 home runs, East Carolina catcher Zach Wright was selected in the sixth round of the MLB draft by the Philadelphia Phillies but decided to rejoin the Pirates for his senior year. (WDN File Photo)

GREENVILLE — Right now Zach Wright could be somewhere in the Philadelphia Phillies organization trying to make a name for himself, as well as a future. Instead, the senior catcher is back with East Carolina, which like Cheers, is a place where everybody knows his name.
With the decision to return to ECU, cheers is what the 6-2, 208-pound Goldsboro native brought to Pirates’ fans as they are hoping he can build on his explosive 2011 stats when he hit .272 with a team-high 13 home runs and drove in a second-best 39 RBIS.
That effort propelled the Pirates to a 41-21 record and appearance in the NCAA regionals. It also got Wright noticed as he was named to the All-Conference USA second team and was a sixth round draft pick by the Phillies.
“It was huge. Every kid dreams of getting drafted and going to play professional baseball,” Wright said on Wednesday during East Carolina’s media day.
Though he was honored to hear his name called during he draft, somewhere along the lines the blossoming catcher and the Phillies got their signals crossed. In the end, Wright decided that best call was to stay in Greenville.
“It just wasn’t the right situation for me,” Wright said. “I’m truly blessed and thankful that I got that opportunity and hopefully this year something comes along again … It was just kind of a bad situation for both parties. I’m putting all that behind me. There’s nothing I can do about it now but go out there and play my hardest and try to do it again.”
Ironically, that bad situation with the Phillies has lead to a great situation for East Carolina head coach Billy Godwin and the soon-to-graduating catcher.
“I’ll be the first one to graduate college in my family. That was a big deal for me and my family … And I couldn’t leave Coach Godwin without a catcher,” Wright said.
Though he said it with a smile, Wright couldn’t be anymore right about leaving Godwin without a backstop.  Though there are three other catchers listed on the East Carolina roster (Sam King, Kevin Sanders and Joshua Lovick) not one of them started a game for the Pirates last season as Wright remarkably got the nod in all 62 games in 2011.
The most physically demanding position on the field, Wright didn’t mind carrying the load on all those hot, steamy summer days, which also included starting back-to-back games during doubleheaders, because in his mind the alternative was far worse.
“I loved it. The biggest thing for me is that I would rather be out there playing than sitting on the bench,” Wright said. “That was probably my moment for me to realize that I was going to have to catch all the games but I wasn’t fazed by it at all. I would definitely rather be out there than sitting on the bench watching.”
While he might not have been fazed by the workload, the same could not be said for the first time he was penciled into the starting lineup and played in front of the home crowd at Clark-LeClair Stadium.
“I remember my freshman year we played Monmouth, It was a Sunday and I got my first start and it was the greatest thing I’ve ever seen because I was definitely not ready for it,” Wright said. “You come to ECU games as a fan but you don’t get the whole experience to what it’s like until you’re on the field and everybody is actually here to see you play.”
That is an experience that both Wright and the fans will get to enjoy for one more season.