Nix Twins Commit to Arkansas State

Benton has been good for Arkansas State baseball. And A-State baseball has been good for the Panthers.

Thursday morning two more Panthers, twins Colten and Chase Nix committed to the Red Wolves, giving coach tommy Raffo and staff seven commitments for the 2016 class. The Nix bothers joins Germantown (Tenn.) Houston brother Colin and Cullen Ray, Star City standouts Garry Hill and Blake Owen and Ross Messina from Kansas City North Staley.

“They have been talking to us a couple of years,’’ said Colten Nix, who played center field for the Panthers and batted in the third spot. “We went up there for a visit this week and we really liked it. Loved the coaches and the facilities. It was a nice town.

“We came home and thought about it for a couple of days and decided that was the best play for us. I think it is a program that has won and has the chance to win big.”

The duo visited with coach Tommy Raffo and assistant coach Tighe Dickinson on Tuesday, when they received their offer.

The Nix brothers follow current Red Wolves pitcher Coulton Lee to Jonesboro. Also A-State catcher Stuart Levy, now playing in the Orioles organization, and Andy Ferguson, at AAA Omaha in the Kansas City farm system. The last two Benton products went from undrafted high school players to draft choices after their A-State years.

“It certainly helps,’’ said Chase, who is a pitcher and played right/left field and batted second. “I know several guys and we have people we can talk to about the program and the school. It played a role.”

Benton is one of the top Class 6A programs annually in the state of coach Mark Balisterri. They lost in the 6A title game to Sheridan this year 10-9.

“It was a tough game,’’ said Colten. “They scored early and kept scoring. We got five in the final inning but could not get that sixth. We had beaten them twice during the season.”

The Panthers have been in the state semifinals for seven straight seasons.

“They are both really good athletes,’’ said Balisterri. “I know Arkansas State has been talking to them for a couple of years and they have been here to watch them play several times.

“They play the game the right way. I know one thing one of the ASU coaches said to was their uniforms are always dirty. They play hard and they don’t run their mouths. Colten is a little better athlete.”

Colten, who is right-handed, is 6-foot-2, 205 pounds and the coach said he has a 36-inch vertical jump. Chase, a lefty, is 6-2, 185 and plays a corner outfield spot when not on the mound.

“Chase has a tremendous upside as a pitcher,’’ said Balisterri. “He was our number one starter as a sophomore and increased his velocity but had trouble with his control. We worked him in slowly and against Beebe he had a no-hitter for 4 innings with seven strikeouts and I pulled him. Two days later he collides with a teammate and has a deep bruise on his left arm so he was done for the year.”