This weekend a few area baseball players will get the opportunity to play in the state’s most prestigious all star game.
The Florida Athletic Coaches Association (FACA) will host the 42nd annual Baseball All Star Classic June 5-6 at Joker Marchant Stadium/Publix Field in Lakeland. The classic will take place at historic Dodgertown, the spring training home of the Detroit Tigers.
This event—which many consider the best all star action in the country—will feature four games over two days, plus a pro/college scout workout at 8 a.m. Saturday. Game times are 1 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, and 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Sunday.
Many Major League Baseball and college rosters, both past and present, have participated in the event.
A total of four area players will represent the North All Stars: Newberry’s Makai Johnson, Suwannee’s (Live Oak) Ryan LeNeave, Santa Fe’s (Alachua) Ryan Brown, and Union County’s (Lake Butler) Tripp Davis.
Johnson, who is committed to Tallahassee Community College, helped lead the Panthers to their first state baseball title in school history by batting over .500 with 11 doubles and four home runs.
“His defense at shortstop is unmatched,” said Newberry coach Mike Spina, who was nominated for the Florida Dairy Farmers Class 1A Coach of the Year.
LaNeave (.407, 12 doubles, 23 runs scored) and Brown were nominees for the Class 4A Player of the Year. Brown had a 10-1 record with a 0.20 ERA and 90 strikeouts in 70 innings pitched.
“Great honor and certainly well deserved,” said Santa Fe coach Travis Yeckring. “He will get to play with and against the best players the state of Florida has to offer. It will be a memorable experience for him, and we’re excited he’s representing the Raiders down in Lakeland.”
Davis, who was also among the nominees for 1A Player of the Year, went 7-2 with a 2.35 ERA on the mound for the Tigers. The senior also did damage with his bat. Rimes described Davis as “a great two-strike approach having only eight strikeouts in 102 plate appearances.” He batted .350 and led Union County with 26 RBI.
“Tripp is really looking forward to competing against the best talent in the state this weekend in Lakeland,” said Union County coach Travis Rimes. “Tripp is the first FACA player of the year from Union County since Dustin Hersey won the award in 2012.
Derek Fabian, who helped lead North Marion (Citra) to its first-ever state championship game appearance and runner-up finish, also made the team, which will be coached by Josh Persinger of Clay (Green Cove Springs).
Tickets are $10 per day.