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Because of Offer to Play Two Sports Biola Becomes the Wright Choice


SAUGUS — The Waves of Pepperdine and the Wolverines of Michigan wooed Saugus High shortstop Nate Wright.

The big boys talked, illustrating all of the high points of Division I baseball.

Wright listened intently, knowing he was on the verge of realizing a dream. Then, in a quick and surprising decision, he chose Biola.

"It wasn't an easy decision, because of the fact that I know I can definitely play at [the Division I] level," Wright said. "And it certainly feels weird when people are talking about what Division I school they're going to and they say, 'Where are you going?' "

Most of Wright's friends had never heard of Biola, a low-profile NAIA school in La Mirada.

Biola coaches told Wright he could play both baseball and soccer for the next four years.

That made a difficult decision easy.

"I'm probably just as good in soccer as I am in baseball," Wright said. "And I didn't want to quit either sport."

Goodbye Pepperdine, Michigan and whoever else wanted Wright as a one-sport athlete.

"You always want to play Division I and play with the big boys," Wright said. "You watch the College World Series and it's exciting and gets all the publicity, but I decided that playing two sports would be better."

In baseball, Wright led Saugus (18-10) with a .402 batting average and seven doubles. He tied for the team lead with 24 runs batted in, and led the Foothill League with 20 stolen bases. He was never caught stealing.

Wright entered the week batting .458, tops for Santa Clarita North in American Legion ball.

In soccer, Wright had 30 goals and 22 assists while playing forward. He was his league's player of the year and was selected All-Southern Section Division II.

UC Irvine was hoping to land Wright with a soccer scholarship.

Other schools, along with scouts for the Dodgers and Atlanta Braves were interested in Wright, who was not drafted. If they were to compare notes, the conclusions would likely be: Good glove, good arm, good bat. Adamant about soccer.

"I think a lot of coaches backed away because of that," he said.

Biola sweetened the deal when Coach Jerry Huson penciled him in as the starting shortstop next season.

'He's a great kid and it's a big deal for us," Huson said. "I know Pepperdine and Michigan were looking at him. It would be hard to turn down a Division I-caliber player who fits into Biola."

Biola has a Christian curriculum similar to The Master's College in Newhall, which has been a pipeline for several Saugus players and is where Wright's father, Nate Wright Sr., is chairman of the physical education department.

Master's also recruited Wright, who wanted to get out of the Santa Clarita Valley.

"I left the decision to Nate," Nate Sr. said.

Wright didn't hesitate, committing to Biola early in May, nearly two weeks before the end of his high school season.

"I guess we could have waited until the fall," Nate Sr. said. "I respect [former Coach Pat] Harrison at Pepperdine, and his opinion was [that] Nate was good enough to play Division I.

"He wanted to go to a Christian liberal arts school. We feel like he's going to get a solid education and he'll be able to play right away. Their shortstop is graduating and Nate's going to be their shortstop right now."

Wright wasn't the only prospect Biola lured from bigger schools. La Mirada High's Greg Rudiger and Ben Orr also will play baseball and soccer for the Eagles.

Orr, a pitcher who defeated Charter Oak in the Division III championship game, turned down a baseball scholarship to Long Beach State.

Biola (24-17) tied for third in the Golden State Athletic Conference. The Eagles are expected to be contenders next year with Wright, Orr and Rudiger.

Wright's friends and teammates aren't razzing him anymore.

"Once they heard that I could start right away and play both sports," Wright said. "I think they were happy with the deal I got."

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