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— Ashley Wright, a 2009 graduate of Decatur High School, recently returned from playing in the 10th Annual King Kamehameha Softball Tournament in Hawaii.

Wright was one of 144 students from across the United States chosen to play in the tournament last fall. She spent a week, June 16-23, on the island of Oahu playing in the tournament and sightseeing.

Originally, Wright was chosen to play for the All Star Team Arkansas, but when the Arkansas team only had three members that were able to go to Hawaii, tournament organizers put Wright on AlabamaÃ-s team.

Team Alabama played with 18 teams from around the world. Wright said she didnÃ-t meet very many of the international players, but did get to meet players from places like Wisconsin, California, Mississippi and Texas.

WrightÃ-s team played four games, losing two and tying two. Wright pitched in the two tied games.

Wright said she learned a lot at the tournament. She said it was interesting to see the different styles and techniques other people used.

ÃI liked watching other girls and seeing how itÃ-s played differently everywhere,î she said.

Wright learned a new pitch and worked on her batting position at the tournament. But the trip wasnÃ-t all work, Wright got to spend a considerable amount of time touring and seeing the sights. She visited the Wikiki Beach, and shopped at the Honolulu Mall. Wright also attended a luau where she learned how to tie native dresses and got to watch native dancers.

ÃIÃ-ve never seen anyone move so fast,î Wright said, describing a little boy doing a fire dance.

Wright was chosen to play in the King KamehamehaTournament after playing in the Junior Classic Tournament in Conway last summer. Although she doesnÃ-t know specifically who nominated her and why, Wright does know that her name was put on a recruiting list from several college in Arkansas.

She hasnÃ-t had much opportunity to travel outside of Arkansas and flying to Hawaii was her first experience on a plane. Once Wright was in Hawaii, she stayed at the Hilton with her team.

ÃThe rooms were amazing and the first floor was a shopping area,î she said.

Wright earned about half of the $2,500 for the trip through her job at All ûBout Chalk in Gentry and by painting her uncleÃ-s fences. The other half of the fees came from donations from her friends, coaches and supporters in the community.

ÃI want to thank all my sponsors,î Wright said.

Wright pitched for DecaturÃ-s Lady Bulldogs during theteamÃ-s first conference win in more than 10 years this spring. The Lady Bulldogs went on to compete in the state tournament for the first time in school history.

In April, Wright signed a letter of intent to play softball for Colby Community College in Colby, Kan. She was awarded a scholarship that will cover her books and tuition while attending the college. She plans to major in early childhood education.

ÃIÃ-m happy sheÃ-s decided to come up and be part of our family and to help us make it over the hump and to play in the national tournament,î Ryan Sturdy, head softball coach at Colby Community College said of WrightÃ-s decision.

Wright said she has already visited the college several times and has met some of her new teammates on Facebook. Her family has plans to help her move into her new dorm in August.

Community, Pages 7 on 07/29/2009

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