Jackson Shaw
ASU Student Journalist

Beyond the diamond: Academic All-Star Game showcases student-athlete excellence

May 26, 2024 by Jackson Shaw, Arizona State University

The South Academic All-Stars pose after winning the 2024 AZBCA Academic All-Star game 10-2 at Goodyear Ballpark. (Jackson Shaw/azpreps365)

From the textbooks to the diamond, these student-athletes excelled in more ways than one this baseball season.

The players that took the field Sunday morning at Goodyear Ballpark demonstrated unwavering consistency throughout their final baseball season. The game concluded with a 10-2 score in favor of the South, with Gilbert High’s Brayden Scott being named MVP.

But it wasn't just the North and South teams’ athletic prowess that was being honored; it was their commitment to academic excellence as well.

Organized by the Arizona Baseball Coaches Association, the annual Academic All-Star Game was a testament to the dedication of these graduated senior athletes. The selected students achieved a remarkable GPA of 3.85 or above and were nominated by their coaches to participate in this event.

Whether they attend rival schools, or have played together for years, these athletes are chosen from more than 100 high schools across the state to come together and compete, and for a lot of them, it’s their last time doing so.

The fans at Goodyear Ballpark were not shorted of a tight contest between the North and South Academic All-Stars through the early innings.

The pitching and fielding talents of Jacob Blickenderfer of Casteel High School were on full display for the South. For many of these players, they are coming off a disappointing end to their season, but this was not the case for Blickenderfer.

He and Casteel recently won their second consecutive 5A state championship.

“It’s the same level of competition,” Blickenderfer said about how serious the game was being taken. “But it’s also just a bunch of different guys getting to know each other, and it’s just a fun experience.”

The South drove in nine runs in the final three innings while holding the North to none.

Scott went 2-for-2, with two singles, one RBI and an MVP trophy.

“This was a lot of fun. I was so happy to be out here because it’s just a cool event. This just goes to show when I play relaxed that helps me have success. Not overthinking it, just having fun with it,” Scott said.


Scott and the rest of the 2024 Academic All-Stars certainly impressed the attendees of Sunday morning’s game with not only their athletic abilities but also their dedication to academic excellence.

Academic North All Stars 2024

Josh Toughill, Cactus Shadows; Charlie Hazen, Brophy; Chris Peronace, Sandra Day O’Connor; Connor Culwell,Coconino; Noah Dana, Round Valley; Adam Ganderilla, Copper Canyon; Stephen Avila, Salome; Cole Muscari,Northwest Christian; Connor Mayer, Sunrise Mountain; Camden White, Goldwater; George Smith, Brophy; Manny Jimenez, Central; David Rodriguez Contreras, Coronado; Shane Lievsay, Bradshaw Mountain; Silas Richmann,Flagstaff; Tucker Legler, Chino Valley; Martin Quinonez, Tonopah; JP Echeverria, Williams; Peter Delfino, Peoria.

Academic South All Stars 2024

Dante Westmiller, Maricopa; Cohen Scott, San Tan Foothills; Mitchell Hamrock, Campo Verde; Drew Heinze, Gilbert;Gabe Wojtulewicz, Mesa; Brayden Scott, Gilbert; Adrian Imperial, Verrado; JP Hurtado, Mesa Mt. View; Kaiden Young, Shadow Ridge; Kishan Bhatnager, Veritas; Benjamin Munguia, Douglas; Logan Carney, Red Mountain; David Meza, Westwood; Logan Spetz, Desert Ridge; Jacob Blickenderfer, Casteel; Sam Lorgan, Chandler; Tanner Thornton,Flowing Wells; Gregory Mattison, Canyon View; Andres Serna, Vista Grande.