CASA GRANDE – For softball players growing up in Casa Grande, the dream is always the same of playing for the University of Arizona.

For Central Arizona College’s Kirsta Wright the dream of playing college ball has slightly changed, instead of suiting up for the Wildcats next season she will represent Purdue University Northwest in Hammond, Indiana.

“Purdue (Northwest) was one of the first couple of school that did get in contact with me and the biggest part that I loved was that the coach was just like coach Shelby (Davis),” Wright said. “She was all about getting your education but also being a good team player and working your butt off every day. That’s kind of what led me there, it just felt right to go to (PNW) compared to all the other schools I had contact with.”

Wright arrived at CAC after graduating from Casa Grande Union in 2019, but only played one full season with the Vaqueras after the 2020 season was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Like many spring sport college athletes, she was granted an additional year of eligibility with the Vaqueras, but because she already completed her associate degree and had limited options to continue her education at CAC.

“I’ve changed my major a couple of times throughout college, but I am now going into biological science with an emphasis in education,” Wright said. “I’ve grown up in a family of teachers and every summer I work with kids at a summer camp, and I’ve coached a couple kids here and there.”

Wright added that she loves science and that there is always something new to learn because it’s always changing. She also hopes to return to Pinal County someday to coach softball either in Casa Grande or Eloy.

Having grown up in Casa Grande and then attending CAC, Wright has known some of her teammates since she first began playing softball, moving to Indiana will bring a whole new experience.

“It’s kind of scary to be away from home,” she said. “I’m a big family person, I have two younger sisters who look up to me. I’m kind of scared but at the same time, I know they’re all backing me up on this choice.”

After taking a tour of the campus and meeting some of her future teammates, she senses that they all trust the softball coach and believe in her process.

“I’m looking forward to playing with the group of girls there,” Wright said. “It’s going to be interesting but there is one girl who lives in Tucson. I’ve met her and we hit it off really well, we have kind of the same personality. I think we all have similar personalities so there won’t be a lot of collisions personality wise.”

The speedy outfield is looking forward to playing softball in the snow, which is something that kids in Arizona do not get to experience.

“The campus is beautiful, instead of dirt all around you, it’s super green,” she said. “It is (also) affiliated with Purdue University, it’s kind of like the sister school. Their science department was brand new with technology I have never seen, and it just seemed like it’s going to bring a new aspect to everything from softball to my education.”

Wright is thankful to coach Davis and assistant coach Ryan Henley as well as her teammates for making her stronger both physically and mentally.

“Before entering CAC, my confidence in the sport was not very high,” she said. “I was able to learn more about working out in the gym and gaining muscle and how that impacts your hitting and throwing. I’m going to be mentally stronger and not let one little strikeout ruin my game. There’s going to be games where your bat’s not going to work but you can be out there and have no errors on the field, which is the best part about it. I can’t wait to continue to learn more about softball and continue to grow in my physical and mental state to excel in the sport I love.”

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Maria Vasquez is the Sports Editor for PinalCentral. She can be reached at mvasquez@pinalcentral.com.