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Senior Moment PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mike Terry, Contributing Writer   
Thursday, 10 May 2012 02:04

Pitcher Karyn Wright Is Wrapping Up An Excellent Four-Year Career At El Camino Real High With A Stellar Year. The One Thing Missing: A City Championship To Complete Her…

MIKE TERRY/SFVS

ECR's Golden Arm -- Karyn Wright, a senior, has produced consecutive outstanding seasons for El Camino Real's softball team. The Conquistadors, co-champions of the West Valley League, await their City Section playoff seeding.

She stands on the mound, all 5-feet, 4-inches of her, looking down at no one. The ball in her right hand is waiting to be launched 45 feet toward home plate, during which time it will rise, dip, float, break away or break toward the hitter. And the speed varies from low-50s to mid- 60s.

The hitter has a second or less to decide what will happen and how to swing the bat. More often than not, the decision is wrong.

Karyn Wright, a senior, has been bedeviling batters practically from the first moment she threw her first pitch for El Camino Real High.

To date she has compiled an 86-23 record in her four years here. But the last two seasons, 2011 and 2012, have been particularly noteworthy.

As a junior last year, Wright was 24-4 with a 0.84 earned run average. She pitched 174 innings, giving up 124 hits and 21 earned runs, with 39 walks and 185 strikeouts. She had 24 complete games and 11 shutouts. She gave up three home runs and threw one wild pitch.

This season, so far, Wright is 21-4 with a 1.03 ERA. She has logged 150 innings, given up 105 hits and 22 earned runs, with 24 walks and 164 strikeouts. She has 20 complete games, 11 shutouts. She's given up four home runs and had one wild pitch.

Until allowing four runs in four innings during a 12-7 loss to Westlake Village Oaks Christian on Tuesday, May 8, Wright had not given up a run in her last seven starts.

She is not freakishly built or cut like a diamond, as far as the athlete eye-test goes. But on the field, Wright is as consistent as a metronome, and as baffling as the cosmos.

"You look at her and she's not physical specimen," said Jim Rose, Birmingham softball coach, whose team was shut out twice by Wright last week. "But she throws hard for her size and harder than most people.

"She is the best pitcher in the City. She hits her spots. She keeps the ball down, and hits the black on inside and outside of plate. She doesn't walk people. And she has improved every year I've seen her."

Rose and others might be interested to know that Wright, 18, had what she considered a "rocky start" to the 2012 season.

"I guess I put way too much pressure on myself, as far as personal goals, when I should have just focused on the 'now,' trying to do it just one pitch at a time," Wright said.

"I'm just trying to stay focused on each pitch…just putting everything together at the right moment. If (the opponents) get a hit, then I try to overcome that and make sure they don't score. I've never beat myself up for allowing a hit; it's just what happens after that."

Whenever Wright had her epiphany – probably after Chatsworth belted her around in a game ECR won 10-8 on April 18 – it recently made her and El Camino Real almost untouchable.

From April 20 to May 8, a stretch of nine games, Wright and the Conquistadors gave up just one run – and that came in a 12-1 victory against Burbank Burroughs on April 21.

The Conquistadors (23-4) won those nine games by outscoring their opponents 86- 1. They also posted seven consecutive shutouts.

ECR Coach Lori Chandler said Wright's greatest strength is her calm under fire. "She's always been a very consistent, stable pitcher on the mound," Chandler said. "She's never rattled too much, or upand- down. Even as a freshman she was very composed.

"I think I've seen growth in her intensity and tenacity. Not to say that she wasn't eager and hungry (as a freshman), but as the years have progressed, she's come to realize just what it would mean to win a City championship. And I think, right now, she's at the height of the desire."

Chaminade High, a neighborhood rival of El Camino Real, is one of the three teams to beat Wright this season (the others being Granada Hills, Las Vegas Centennial and Oaks Christian.) Coach Gina Hairapetian, who, like Rose, has had to face Wright in games for four years, has a deep respect for her abilities.

"She's always kept us off balance," Hairapetian said. "We've had to become more disciplined at the plate. She is very good at getting you to swing at pitches outside the strike zone.

"She does do a great job (on the mound), a phenomenal pitcher for them."

After graduating in May, Wright will head to Portland State University, where she plans to study physical therapy.

"I really like it because it's in the city (Portland), and I wanted to go away from California because I'm probably gonna come right back after I finish," Wright said. "I wanted a different experience, and I liked the coaches a lot."

Vikings Coach Tobin Echo- Hawk, who personally scouted Wright before offering a scholarship, is eager to have Wright join the team, especially with Portland State moving from the Pacific Coast Softball Conference to the Big Sky Conference next season.

"I have a staff member (Megan Miller) who played at the same high school as Karyn, who told me about her," Echo- Hawk said. "She reminds me of another pitcher on our team, Anna Bertrand, a junior. It's the same thing; neither is a big strong kid, but they know how to put the ball where they want."

Although ECR and Granada Hills tied for the West Valley League championship, and they split their two meetings, the Conquistadors will come out of the May 11 City playoff meeting as the higher seed due to run differential between the two teams. El Camino Real has the aggregate difference, 5-1.

The seeding is not as important to Wright as getting back to the championship game. ECR, which has won 13 City titles, the last one in 2005, reached the final last year only to lose to Carson, 6-3, at Cal State Northridge.

The Conquistadors, who led 3-0 going into the fifth, committed six errors in the loss; Wright herself allowed a run to score in the seventh, throwing late to the plate after bobbling a comebacker with the bases loaded.

Wright hopes for one more chance, be it Carson, or anyone else.

"There are nine seniors here, so we're trying to get to the point where we're all going out on a good note," she said.

"I just keep thinking of how to get to the outcome, rather than thinking too far ahead."

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