Soddy-Daisy’s Andy Wright, a rising senior and dual-threat player, has made a non-binding verbal commitment to play baseball at Middle Tennessee State University.
Wright, a pitcher/third baseman, chose the Conference USA Blue Raiders over Belmont, Air Force, Navy, UT-Martin and Carson-Newman.
“I’m glad to get this (decision) off my back so I can enjoy my senior year,” Wright said Wednesday. “My plan was to make a decision right after summer ball and I’ve been able to do that. We finished our season a week ago.”
Wright played for the Tennessee Twisters.
As a junior, Wright was selected to the All-District 5-AAA team and helped the Trojans to a runner-up finish to Bradley Central in the District 5-AAA tournament. Soddy-Daisy stunned District 6-AAA champion Warren County in the Region 3-AAA semifinals and lost to Cookeville in the championship game.
The Trojans then lost to Riverdale in the Sectionals the following day and ended their season with a 21-18 record, one win shy of the state tournament.
“We had a pretty good year and I believe I helped the team a lot,” Wright said. “We wanted to make it farther (in the postseason), but we have some guys coming back and we could do better. We lost a lot of guys, but the underclassmen are just great.
“It will be my senior year and I want to lead my team and see where we can go with it.”
As a junior, Wright batted. 398, led the Trojans with 68 total bases, drove in 26 RBIs to share the lead with Tre Carter, led the city with 14 doubles and hit two home runs.
On the mound, the right-hander posted a 5-3 record with a 3.92 ERA in 39 innings of work. Wright’s ERA was skewed when he allowed eight earned runs in 1.1 innings against a talented Ringgold squad in his first start. Over the rest of the season he gave up 14 earned runs in 37.2 innings – a 2.61 ERA. He struck out 48 batters.
“That’s a pretty good season,” Trojans coach Jared Hensley said.
Although Wright can still be recruited by other schools until he actually signs a national Letter of Intent, he doesn’t see a time when he would change his mind.
“My mind’s pretty well set on Middle Tennessee,” he said. “I really like it over there.”
Wright will become the third Hamilton County player to join the Blue Raiders, coached by Jim McGuire. Silverdale Baptist Academy pitcher Reid Clements signed with MTSU after leading the Seahawks to the 2013 Class A state tournament title game and Ooltewah pitcher/first baseman Kevin Dupree joined the Blue Raiders at the conclusion of his outstanding career with the Owls this spring.
Also, former Polk County star Jared Allen came to MTSU from Walters State and earned a spot on the all-conference and ex-Walker Valley player Brandon Zajac, who was twice drafted – first by Pittsburgh in 2011 and then by San Francisco two years later, spent one year at Tennessee and a season at Cleveland State before transferring to MTSU. Both players were juniors in 2014.
Dupree and Clements have been playing summer ball with the Madisonville (Ky.) Miners in the Ohio Valley Summer Collegiate Baseball League.
The Blue Raiders finished the 2014 season with a 31-27 overall record and 17-13 league mark after winning eight of their last 11 games. Dupree appeared in 11 games, batting .200 with two hits in 10 at-bats and drove in three runs. Clements made just one mound appearance, pitching one-third inning.
The Blue Raiders finished fourth in Conference USA behind Rice (23-7), Alabama-Birmingham (20-10) and Southern Miss (19-11). Rice and Texas-San Antonio beat MTSU in the conference tournament to end the Blue Raiders’ season.
Hensley is glad to have Wright for one more high school season.
“Andy has been a huge part of our program and success the last three years,” he said. “He started as a freshman, played multiple positions, moved to the outfield and came back to the infield the last couple years.
“I think he can pitch and play in the infield at MTSU, but his best opportunity to play early probably would be on the mound. He threw quite a bit for us. But we had Christian Amos, who was our Monday or Tuesday, and I see Andy filling Christian’s shoes next season. I want him to go out and be Andy and continue to do what he’s always done.”
(E-mail Larry Fleming at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @larryfleming44)