Signing Day: Alice's Cash Benavidez, Mathew Molina sign to play Division I baseball
Alice seniors Cash Benavidez and Matthew Molina always dreamed of signing to play college baseball since they were kids.
The close friends fell in love with the game at a young age and played until high school where they led the Coyotes back to the playoffs during their junior seasons.
Both were rewarded for their hard work and dedication by signing letters of intent to play baseball at the Division I level.
Benavidez signed with Houston Baptist University and Molina signed with Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in front of family, friends and coaches on Wednesday at the high school gymnasium.
"It's a great feeling," Benavidez said. "With all of the hard work I put in, it's a dream come true. It’s always been a dream of ours since we were younger."
"It means a lot," Molina added. "I've played baseball my whole life and my coaches always pushed me and they always checked on me. My teammates were always there and so was my buddy Cash."
Molina and Benavidez hope to leave the Alice baseball program in a better place than when it was when they arrived as freshman.
Alice baseball coach Nick Alvarado said both players had a positive impact on the team the moment he stepped in as head coach four years ago.
"I took the job four years ago and I've been able to see them through their four years of high school," Alvarado said. "They’re special kids with special families. To be able to claim them as my first four-year kids is pretty special. They've been with me from the jump, so there hasn't been a whole lot we haven't been through together. It makes this particular signing a little more special because they're my first four-year Alice Coyotes."
Alvarado said Benavidez is an athlete who could have played any sport and have success doing it.
Alvarado feels Benavidez' ability to have a vision for his goals and the support of his family will allow him to have a positive impact on his future college teammates.
Benavidez hit .319 last season and drove in a team-best 22 runs in the Coyotes' run to the Class 4A regional quarterfinals.
"Cash has good qualities, good character and he's a well-rounded young man," Alvarado said. "I don’t think he's been around 23-24 year olds, draft level guys, soon to be pro guys... It's going to open his eyes and it's going to carry his journey further. He’s going to develop his skills beyond what we can imagine right now.
"You add the wildcard as having Lance Berkman as his coach to insert those golden nuggets," Alvarado added. "His approach at the plate and the mental side of the game will be at a high level. It's going to be really fun to see him develop.”
Molina did a little bit of everything for the Coyotes as an outfielder and pitcher.
He hit just under .300 with a home run and drove in 13 runs.
"Matt staying in Corpus is very important because of the closeness to his family," Alvarado said. "I think Matt could handle being 1,500 miles away but I think he’s going to handle 63 miles away a little bit better. The upside of Matt is he’s one of the best athletes I've come across. He’s a gifted athlete with a high upside.”
Both players look forward to settling in at the college level but for now, the goal of leading Alice back to the playoffs is the priority.
The Coyotes return a handful of key players from last year's playoff team.
"I'm glad coach Alvarado came to Alice," Molina said. "He's helped us a lot, and he helped me a lot with the recruiting process. Everything he's done has helped our team."
"I've learned a lot from my coaches here and coach Alvarado has been a great mentor," Benavidez added. "I've learned if you work hard, you can do anything.”