Polk County baseball players in the Florida coaches’ all-star game

In sports you always want to win the game. But sometimes they can be a learning tool used to help dream in the future.

That’s what happened Wednesday during the annual Florida Athletic Coaches Association All-Star Baseball Classic at Historic Henley Field in Lakeland, despite the East team outscoring the North team 11-4. Three Polk County players were on the East team: McKeel’s KJ Scobey, Fort Meade’s Carson Montsdeoca and Lakeland’s Xavier Rivera.

Scobey spotted a quick ball up the middle and fired a ball into midfield before it was tracked down late in the game. In the game, batters used wooden bats and Scobey said it was good practice.

“It’s a big difference. You have to be a different kind of player to use wood,” Scobey said. “Wooden bats are smaller. … The metal bat, you can miss one and it still goes 400 feet, whereas wood, if you miss it, doesn’t go that far.

The Lakeland native finished the McKeel season with a .395 average, five home runs, 34 RBI and 32 hits, helping his team to a 23-6 record. And thanks to this and his previous fruitful seasons, he’s headed to the University of South Carolina as a shortstop. He will study sports management.

“It’s good to come out here with a lot of good competition and see all the guys from Florida State. It was just fun to be here,” Scobey said.

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Montsdeoca went 1-for-2 with a single to left field in his first at bat. Monsdeoca also pitched and struck out two.

“When pitching, you definitely have to hit your spot. Throw strikes, but not too many strikes; you can’t let anyone out,” Montsdeoca said. “Actually make competitive pitches.”

Montsdeoca played quarterback for Fort Meade and led the program to a historic 9-1 season in 2023. But even that kind of success couldn’t keep him off the ballpark, and he will head to Gainesville in the fall to play for the Gators.

Montsdeoca finished the season with a 6–4 record and an ERA of 1.85.

“If Florida wanted me to come in as a two-way athlete, that would have been a dream. But when Florida called to play baseball, you can’t turn it down,” Montsdeoca said.

Both Montsdeoca and Scobey are used to playing baseball in Polk County, but for Rivera, this was his first year.

He moved with his family from Puerto Rico to Lakeland in 2024. Thanks to playing high-level baseball on the island, he started in 2024, which helped him get to the all-star game.

Rivera ultimately went 1-for-2 thanks to a line drive to right field that produced a run in the seventh inning.

“It was a great experience against some really good talent, and I think it will help me get better and mature,” Rivera said. “Playing at this level is difficult.”

Still, Rivera earned his spot, as the catcher hit .415 with three home runs, 27 hits and 24 RBI. He signed with the University of New Orleans.

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