South brings balanced approach to inaugural All-Star Game

baseballBy Marty Pallman

There will be plenty of speed and power for the South Team as they get ready to take part in the inaugural North Florida Baseball All-Star Series.

The South will open up against the West at 10 a.m. this Tuesday, June 4, at Columbia High School in Lake City. The North All-Stars will play the East All-Stars at 1 p.m. The losers of the first two games will play for third place at 4 p.m. and the winners in the championship game at 7.

The South team will be managed by Trinity Catholic (Ocala) head coach Tommy Bond.

Bond, who pitched for Florida from 1995-98, is the only head coach of the Celtics baseball program, which has made four state semifinal appearance and won the 4A state title in 2014. He will be assisted by East Ridge (Clermont) head coach Bret Simmermacher and Gainesville manager Chris Malphurs. Simmermacher led East Ridge to the number one seed in the regular season for District 3-8A in 2019, and Malphurs has skipped the Hurricanes to the 7A state playoffs the last two seasons.

Among the players to watch for the South is multiple sport star Maurice Goolsby of Dunnellon. Goolsby, who is signed to play football for FSU, batted .468 with 44 hits and 37 RBI as Dunnellon advanced to the Region 2-6A final, where the Tigers were ousted by eventual 6A state champion Jesuit (Tampa).

Gainesville has three players on the South squad, led by twins Zeb and Luke Marquis, who both hit over .400 for the Hurricanes in 2019, and slick-fielding shortstop Marcos Aular. Aular led Gainesville with 35 RBI as the Hurricanes lost at Bartram Trail (St. Johns) in the opening round of the 7A playoffs this season. The Marquis twins will be stay at home and play for Santa Fe College next year.

Buchholz (Gainesville) also has three representatives on the South team. Matt Moss, Cole Howard, another Santa Fe College signee, and Wesley Avery represent the Bobcats, who were 17-9 this season and just missed out on the 8A state playoffs.

Also placing three players on the squad is Santa Fe (Alachua). The Raiders will be represented by Ethan Thompson, who hit .432 with 8 homers and 34 RBI, Brennan Haire, who batted .350 with 25 runs batted in, and Dustin Beckleheimer, a tall left-handed pitcher who was 3-1 with a 1.91 ERA and 57 strikeouts in 44 innings. Santa Fe finished the season 20-7 and advanced to the 5A state playoffs.

North Marion (Citra) and Trinity Catholic also placed two players on the team. Jake Blair and Cameron Martinez will represent the Colts, who advanced to the second round of the 6A playoffs, and the Celtics are represented by Mac Gibas and Wes Powell.

Gene Reid is another multi-sport athlete who is playing for the South in this game. Reid, who played in the North Central Florida All-Star Football Classic, will represent Lake Weir (Ocala) in the baseball all-star games as well. Reid hit . 388 for the Hurricanes with 26 hits and 13 RBI, and played in the FACA All-Star Baseball Classic at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland on Memorial Day weekend.

A total of 13 schools are represented for the South All-Stars ranging from Alachua County down to Lake and Citrus County.