Benton (The Saline Courier) - Before he graduates high school, Benton senior catcher Stuart Levy wants to win a state title. On Thursday afternoon, Levy made a step towards that goal —signing with Arkansas State. By committing to the Division-1 School in the fall, Levy can now focus on his senior year and hopefully guide the Panthers to their second state championship in three years. The Panthers lost to Searcy last year in the semifinals of the 6A State Championship.
"I'm so glad to get it over with," Levy said. "It has been weighing on my mind for quite some time."
"I think [signing early] is real big," head coach Mark Balisterri said. "To be able to play the game with out the pressure of performing for someone. He's the kind of kid that is going to work hard and get better.
"I think it is going to be a big step in the right direction for him."
Last winter, Levy batted .269 with 2 home runs and 13 RBIs. He had on base percentage of .412.
He caught 23 games for 135 innings with only two passed balls.
Levy, a transfer from Little Rock Catholic, had a .989 fielding percentage in 28 games played.
"We are looking forward to his senior year," Balisterri said. "He has been a great athlete to our program.
"He is great behind the plate and has leadership ability. You want your catcher to be the guy you can look to lead the team and be vocal. And that's what he does."
Arkansas State made it to the semifinals of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament in May but lost to Troy 12-8 in 11 innings.
It was the first time since 1996, that ASU had advanced to the semifinals. ASU ended its season with a 30-28 record.
"Arkansas State is going to get a guy that is going to give 110 percent," Balisterri said. "He lives and breathes baseball. He is a great player and we are going to miss him."