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.”