Woolbright takes talents to A-state
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.”