By RAY SCHAEFER
For The Independent
OWINGSVILLE The game was T-ball, and 5-year-old Cable Wright didn't understand a particular rule.
His conundrum: What the opponents did on the field. Cable's father, former Bath County boys basketball coach and athletic director Roy Cable Wright, told his youngest child everybody took a turn at bat, and no score was kept.
It was a rule Cable didn't comprehend.
“I just remember getting the people out,” the younger Wright said. “I didn't understand why they wouldn't just sit down.”
The son — whose full name is Roy Cable Wright II but simply “Cable” to folks around Owingsville — is now a 19-year-old senior at Bath County High School who is about to complete his pitching career for the Wildcats, and he's still sending players to the dugout.
In 37 innings pitched so far this season, he's 3-3 with a 1.15 earned run average, 60 strikeouts, 14 walks and a save. and 14 walks. He's given up 28 hits and 16 runs (six earned).
When he's not pitching, you can find the 6-foot, 235-pound left-hander patrolling first base. He has a .514 batting average, 38 hits, 20 runs scored, 10 doubles and 32 runs batted in.
Besides the three no-hitters he's thrown in his career (two against Menifee County in 2010 and 2011, one against Fairview in '11) there is one more impressive statistic: the time he reached base 25 straight times two years ago — 19 hits, five walks and being hit by a pitch.
“You don't hear every day (of) a sophomore getting on 25 straight times,” Bath County junior second baseman Tommy Cline said. “Three out of 10 is impressive; he stands up and takes charge.”
Cable received scholarship offers from Eastern Kentucky, Marshall, Cincinnati, Kentucky and the one he accepted from Morehead State. He also received interest from New York Yankees and Chicago Cubs scouts who saw his low-90 mph fastball.
“I just think (MSU) would be the best fit for me,” Cable said. “They've got a bunch of young talent, and they're bringing in a bunch of new players. They've got a new coach (Mike McGuire); I think he's going to do wonders for the program.”
There's also Cable in the classroom: a 4.0 grade point average. Wright's mother, Pam, notices the academic progress more than the athletic.
“I think he was in middle school before he realized he was actually there for an education,” she said. “I think he had a 'B' in middle school.”
It seems everybody has a favorite Cable Wright story.
Roy Cable Wright remembers his son's baseball skills as a pre-schooler.
“You could always tell his hand-eye coordination was good,” he said.
Bath County coach Brock Baber took his first look when Cable was in elementary school, and he saw nascent leadership skills.
“He was directing traffic,” Baber said. “It was probably a basketball game at that time.”
Bath County senior catcher South Whitt's memory is perhaps the most painful — he merely has to look at his left index finger, where he thought he'd suffered nerve damage this spring corralling Cable's fastballs and saw his digit resemble a Baltimore Ravens home football jersey.
“I think it was purple and black for a month,” Whitt said. “It was the epitome of when I say 'unbearable;’ it was that bad.”
The younger Wright has learned to appreciate his baseball talent because it was taken away for nearly a year after he tore the anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus in his left knee.
It was Dec. 1, 2011, and Bath County was on its way to a 67-40 loss at Johnson Central when Wright touched the ball.
“We stole the ball, and I had a wide-open layup,” Cable said. “I just went up to shoot the layup. My knee just gave out, that's all I really remember. I didn't get off the ground.”
Wright's junior baseball season in 2012 disappeared, too. He faced at least six months of rehabilitation after the surgery, but the hardest part was sitting out.
“It was hard knowing I couldn't go out there to help the team,” Wright said. “I felt like I was just useless. I was lucky enough to have one year left.”
When he returned to pitching last September in a game against Lexington Bryan Station in Harrodsburg, Wright's biggest concern was driving off his left leg during the pitching motion; if the knee was weaker, there could have been a significant loss in velocity from his fastball. While Wright never favored his left knee because he was confident it had been repaired — and was stronger than his right — he was nevertheless a little timid.
“It didn't hurt or anything,” Wright said. “ … I wouldn't say I threw the first few as hard as I could because I was afraid. It took about 20 pitches.
“... I think I'm a better pitcher than I was sophomore year. I've gained 3-4 mph throwing. I'm stronger, faster in my lower half.”
Wright also throws a curveball and changeup. Roy Cable Wright said his son hasn't had any arm issues, mostly because he wasn't allowed to throw breaking balls until he was a high school freshman.
Cable Wright II knows two other things: that his success is the result of others' work as well as his own (“Especially Coach Baber; if he could be my pitching coach my whole life, I'd love it,” he says); and that if he never pitches professionally, he wants to be a physical therapist.
“I just want people to remember me as a good guy that always helped people that needed to be helped,” he said. “(That's) the good stuff.”
Bath County standout Wright putting up huge numbers on the mound, at the plate
By RAY SCHAEFER
- Local Sports
VIDEO: 16th Region semifinals highlights
Fleming County defeated Lewis County, 66-58, and Ashland beat Greenup County, 81-61, on Monday night at Morehead State University to set up tonight's championship matchup. Tipoff is set for 7.
Ashland cruises past Greenup to 16th Region championship game
Tyler Stewart is known for his unrelenting hustle as one of Ashland’s glue guys.
When the senior guard can pitch in some offense too, as he did Monday in the 16th Region Tournament semifinals, that’s just one more problem for Tomcats opponents.
Stewart scored 20 points, senior Steven Friley posted a double-double with 21 points and 14 rebounds, and Ashland outscored Greenup County 21-9 in the third quarter to break open what was a seven-point game at halftime and cruise past the Musketeers, 81-61.
Fleming battles back to 16th Region final
A healthy Wilder Williams this season has given Fleming County a whole new dimension.
Prior to his sophomore year, Williams sustained a football injury that resulted in three ankle surgeries and limited him to bench duty last season while the Panthers made their run to the 16th Region championship.
A physical 6-foot-3 player, Williams is making his presence felt around the basket as Fleming County looks to return to the Sweet Sixteen.
AARON SNYDER: Will the next hero be unmasked?
Who will the bat signal shine for tonight?
Or, should I say, the Cat signal?
In the third installment of a trilogy that might rival the Batman three-pack of “Batman Begins,” “The Dark Knight” and “The Dark Knight Rises,” Fleming County and Ashland will battle in a matchup that has produced a classic clash in each of the last two 16th Region Tournaments.
If the first two collectively served as a gradual progressions to tonight’s scene, the climax could be off the charts.
Corey Gregg was Ashland’s superhero in 2012, when the senior confidently fired a perfect 3-point shot from the right corner. The triple thrust the Tomcats and Panthers into overtime, from which Ashland emerged 79-73 in a first-round game.
Central wins, Lawrence falls in 15th
The biggest concern for Lawrence County coach Josh Cook was staying out of foul trouble.
His team stayed in it all night, and it cost them a spot in the 15th Region title game.
Shelby Valley senior Tyler Carr led four players in double figures with 19 points as the Wildcats knocked off Lawrence County, 72-60, in the semifinals of the 15th Region Tournament at the East Kentucky Expo Center.
“This one hurts,” said Cook. “We’ll learn from this, and I have no doubt that our kids will get back here and finish the job.”
- Fleming hangs tough to beat Lewis Fleming County locked into another fight against Lewis County, which beat the Panthers earlier this season, before winning 66-58 on Monday in Morehead. Wilder Williams posted a double-double of 19 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Panthers, who face Ashland on Tuesday at 7 p.m.
- GALLERY: Ashland gets by Greenup County, will meet Fleming in region final Ashland's Steven Friley scored 21 points Monday to lead the Tomcats to an 81-61 win over Greenup County in the 16th Region semifinal in Morehead.
Kittens clamoring for more at state
Ashland girls basketball coaches went the extra mile, and a whole bunch more, to get a first-hand scouting report on the Kittens’ opponent for the State Tournament.
Head coach Bill Bradley and assistant Phil Wittich drove all the way to Henderson — 5 hours, 20 minutes one way Bradley said on the way home — to take in Sunday’s Second Region championship game.
Henderson County, playing on its home floor, defeated University Heights 67-54. The Lady Colonels went unbeaten in their region this season and are 24-5 overall.
EKC hands out hardware
The Eastern Kentucky Conference handed out its 2014 awards on Monday afternoon at a luncheon at Carter Caves.
Barracudas earn kudos from coach
Ashland Area YMCA swimmers impressed coach Ryan Ferguson from start to finish in the three-day Kentucky Y Competitive Swim League State Meet.
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- VIDEO: 16th Region semifinals highlights