Clemson Baseball is entering a new era with Head Coach Erik Bakich taking over the reins. Once a volunteer assistant for Clemson in 2002, the well-respected head coach makes his return to Clemson 20 years later as the lead man.
Bakich is coming off an impressive tenure at Michigan, where he turned the program around, highlighted by a runner-up finish in the 2019 College World Series. With a new staff in place and new players, there is still one name that is familiar to many around Tiger Baseball…junior infielder Blake Wright.
Coming off an outstanding season, when he was a Third-Team All-ACC selection, Wright is a key returning player who will not only be important for his skills on the field, but will be integral off the field as well.
Wright hails from Clearwater, Fla., just outside of Tampa, an area rich with baseball talent and plenty of competition. Baseball has been his sole focus in sports since a young age, being the only sport he has played at a high level.
However, Wright has not been alone on his journey. He is grateful for his family supporting him every step of the way along with his father for having a significant impact on his baseball career.
“Ever since I was two, we’ve been playing Wiffle Ball in the house, and we’ve been going to the field pretty much since I could walk. They’ve been supporting me any way they can to be the best player and person I can be.”
Growing up, a particular player that Wright admired was Chase Utley of the Philadelphia Phillies. Comparing the two, one can see the similarities…second basemen, tough players and hard-working team leaders.
“How hard he works…you can see how tough he plays, and that’s the type of player I’ve always wanted to be.”
Having a successful four years on the diamond at Clearwater Central Catholic High School, schools started to reach out to Wright during his junior season. A highly touted prospect, Wright was ranked as the No. 87 overall player in Florida coming out of high school and the No. 15 shortstop in the state according to Perfect Game, impressive accolades for a state with so much talent.
Originally a South Florida commit, Wright had a change of heart after its coaching staff changed.
“I felt it in my heart that I should have come to Clemson. The academic and student-athlete experience that you get is special. I think it’s one of one.”
Looking for a school with a great atmosphere and balance between academics and sports, Wright found exactly that in Clemson and committed during his senior year.
Playing sparingly during his freshman season, Wright played only 12 games (10 starts at third base) and batted .167 with a homer and five RBIs. After getting one season under his belt, Wright was able to make huge strides in year two. He moved across the diamond to second base and played 44 games (39 starts) in 2022 and exploded for a stat line of a .349 batting average with 11 home runs and 40 RBIs.
While Wright improved on the field, he also had a big impact off the field and in the clubhouse, winning the Tiger Baseball Award as the team’s best leader.
“It’s a great honor. I was just trying to help my teammates any way I can. That’s what I’ll continue to do and be a leader by example and lead the younger guys and try to get to Omaha.”
Having leadership is important in life no matter the situation. For Clemson Baseball, Wright is setting the bar high, as he wants to create the foundation for the younger players and leave a lasting impact.
“I’m going to set the example and show them how it’s done. If you can build other leaders on the team, you can have something special. You’re going to be able to compete for a national championship.”
Being a strong leader involves working hard on and off the field, and Wright has done just that. The all-conference member has also been recognized for his academic success, having been selected as a back-to-back ACC Academic Honor Roll member.
Despite all these accolades earned through just two seasons, Wright’s mindset is focused on one thing. When asked about any personal or team goals, he replied with the following.
“Just win…that’s it.”
Consistency, leadership and strong work ethic…all of those things come to mind when talking about Wright. In a new chapter for Clemson Baseball, it is looking to head in the direction of a deep run in the NCAA Tournament.
Look for Wright to do what he has always done and lead the way.