Wool­bright takes tal­ents to A-state

The Saline Courier - - SPORTS - By Tony Le­na­han tle­na­[email protected]­ton­courier.com

BEN­TON – Ben­ton se­nior du­al­sport ath­lete Jaden Wool­bright will be con­tin­u­ing his ath­letic ca­reer at the Divi­sion I level af­ter sign­ing his let­ter of in­tent Wed­nes­day at Ben­ton High School. A beastly linebacker for the foot­ball team, Wool­bright chose base­ball at the next level, ink­ing with the Arkansas State Red Wolves.

“They’re get­ting an al­laround player,” Ben­ton Coach Mark Bal­is­terri said. “He’s a guy that can play mul­ti­ple positions and if he can ever fig­ure it out on the mound, they’re go­ing to get a big sur­prise be­cause the guy can throw 92 miles an hour. We’re hop­ing we can get it fig­ured out be­fore the sea­son.

If we can he’s go­ing to make a huge dif­fer­ence for us on the mound.”

It was at the plate last year where Wool­bright shined, earn­ing All­con­fer­ence hon­ors for last sea­son’s 5A run­ner-up Pan­thers which went 23-6 and fell in the state cham­pi­onship game.

Though con­sid­er­ing Kansas State and Wi­chita State, Wool­bright chose the Red Wolves in Jones­boro.

“The peo­ple, the coaches, they’re great guys,” Wool­bright rea­soned. “The team­mates I met up there on my of­fi­cial visit, they’re great guys. They’re def­i­nitely a group of peo­ple I want to sur­round my­self with for the next four years.”

Play­ing first base last sea­son, Wool­bright bat­ted .324 ty­ing for the team lead with three home runs and seven dou­bles, and led the Pan­thers with 34 runs. Adding 21 RBIS, he struck out just eight times in 96 plate ap­pear­ances, while walk­ing 16 times to up his on-base per­cent­age to .469.

“He can hit, he can run, he’s a good ath­lete,” Bal­is­terri said. “He can play third or first so he’s go­ing to have an op­por­tu­nity to play there (Arkansas State), whether it’s pitch­ing or hit­ting. He’s a heck of an ath­lete. I think they’re get­ting a re­ally good prod­uct.”

Wool­bright said it’s hard not to suc­ceed in Ben­ton.

“Def­i­nitely a lot of de­vel­op­ing,” he said. “We have great fa­cil­i­ties here, great coaches. Great team­mates. Def­i­nitely a great community. It’s hard not to per­form here. You’ve got ev­ery tool.

“I just love be­ing out there. They can stick me any­where and I love to do it.”

With a taste of the state fi­nals, Wool­bright is want­ing more his last go-round with the Pan­thers.

“High ex­pec­ta­tions for sure,” he said. “I want to win. I’m go­ing to hold my team­mates to that stan­dard and I want to win games.”

“He helped lead us to a state run­ner-up last year and he was an All-con­fer­ence player,” Bal­is­terri said. “He’s one of those play­ers that can change the game with one swing of the bat, he can change the game with one play de­fen­sively, and he can change the game, hope­fully, with one pitch. We can put him any­where on the field.”

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