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Brown, Hixon named new PLAS coaches

Pike Liberal Arts School is pleased to announce Matt Brown as the new varsity boys basketball head coach and Rush Hixon as the new varsity boys baseball coach.

“With Allen Ponder leaving, this opened up the head coaching positions for both varsity boys basketball and baseball,” Eric Burkett, PLAS Headmaster, said.

“We knew that we would need to find replacements that would be a good fit for our culture and continue to build upon our foundation of recruiting and developing players that understood what it would take to be successful off and on the field. I’m confident we have found that fit with these gentlemen and I look forward to working with them.”

VARSITY BOYS BASKETBALL

Matt Brown is a graduate of Charles Henderson High School where he was All-Area Player. He went to Shelton State on a basketball scholarship where he was Second Team All-Conference and returned to Troy University as a walk-on to finish his degree in Environmental Science.

For the past four years, Brown assisted Coach Ponder for the Patriots boys basketball team, coaching the team through the quarterfinals in 2018, the semifinals in 2019 and this past year being names the 2020 AISA Class AAA runner-up.

“I’m excited about this opportunity and really looking forward to continuing to coach this team and continue pushing this program forward,” Brown said.  “I really appreciate the administration for their confidence in me and I am thankful to Ponder for all I learned coaching alongside him.  I’m also very thankful to the Sanders and KW companies for allowing me the flexibility to continue to coach and for my family for all their support.”

Matt is married to Jennifer and they have two daughters, Mary Clark and Maggie James, age 9, and a son, Coggins, age 7, all students at PLAS.

VARSITY BASEBALL

Rush Hixon is 2015 graduate of PLAS where he lettered in football, basketball and baseball.  He was on the 2012 Patriot baseball team, coached by the revered Butch Austin, that brought the first AISA state championship trophy home to Pike.  His senior season, coached by Allen Ponder, he hit .414 with 25 RBIs and was 4-1 with a 1.27 ERA and 48 strikeouts. He was named an AISA All-Star his junior year as well as an AISA All-Star for football, basketball and baseball his senior year.

Hixon signed a baseball scholarship to Lurleen B. Wallace Community College and later played at Central Alabama Community College where he was named both all-region first team player (pitcher) and all-north first team player (pitcher) in 2017. He also was named a 2017 ABCA NJCAA Rawlings Gold Glove Award winner in 2017. prestigious Rawlings Gold Glove

He signed a scholarship to play for Troy University in 2018, lettering for both years and claiming the second-best ERA for the Trojans his senior season. Hixon was also named to the Sunbelt Conference Academic Honor Roll for both years.  In 2018, the Trojans made a NCAA regional appearance, named Sunbelt Conference runner-up and Hixon’s famous “diving catch off the mound” made ESPN SportCenter’s Top 10 number two play in March 2018.

In addition to Hixon being a student assistant for the Trojans in the 2019 season, Hixon has coached for six years for the American Legion Baseball League, winning four state championships. Four of those years, he has served as a head coach with an overall head coach record of 117-42.

“Returning to Pike to lead the baseball program means more to me than most will ever know,” Hixon said. “I have a large amount of pride in Pike Liberal Arts School and want to see it to be successful in every way possible. I plan to build on the already rich tradition the baseball program has and cannot wait to get it started.”

These new hires, according to Mario White, PLAS Athletic Director, may mean new faces at the helm but both Brown and Hixon are not new faces for Patriot Athletics.

“We are thankful to have both Coach Brown and Coach Hixon familiar with our school and these winning programs. I know they both have an appreciation for the Patriot legacy, and they have our full confidence they will continue to help us push our teams and our student-athletes to the next level,” White said. According to White, both Brown and Hixon met with their respective teams earlier this evening and both coaches will immediately assume their positions and join their athletes in the weight room for workouts in the morning.