The 2017-18 American Family Insurance ALL-USA Baseball First Team was chosen by USA TODAY Sports’ Jim Halley in consultation with high school coaches.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: J.T. Ginn, Brandon
COACH OF THE YEAR: Steve Chapman, Calallen
Name: Matthew Liberatore
School: Mountain Ridge (Peoria, Ariz.)
Key stats: Was 8-1 with 104 strikeouts with a 0.93 ERA and 25 walks in 60.1 innings. Led team to state championship game.
College/pro: Arizona signee/Drafted No. 16 overall by Tampa Bay Rays
Breaking in a new glove: I just play catch with it, use it as much as possible and I’ll leave it in the car. In Arizona, it will get really hot and the leather will get nice and soft and then I’ll make sure the break is in the right place.
Greatest player I’ve taken a selfie with: I haven’t had a selfie with any big-league guys, so I would probably say Nolan (Gorman).
My most influential man in baseball: (Washington Nationals pitcher) Max Scherzer. I love the way he pitches.
My talent on America’s Got Talent: I don’t know if I have any talents other than throwing a baseball. I can play pingpong.
Favorite walk-out song: Legend by the Score.
First car and dream car: The first car I drove was a 2006 Ford Mustang. My dream car would be a 2018 Range Rover or 2018 Shelby GT 350.
Smartest thing I’ve done lately: Continuously putting in the work to be the best athlete, best person and best brother.
Dumbest thing I’ve done lately: I wouldn’t say I’ve done anything super dumb.
Teacher of influence: My freshman year weightlifting coach (Kevin Schmitt) had a big impact. He really had a passion for what he did. He actually enjoyed doing sports-specific stuff. He personalized our programs and that meant a lot to me and he showed me some new stuff.
My biggest pet peeve: I don’t like the sound of people chewing. That bothers me quite a bit.
My second-best sport is: Pingpong.
Most memorable home run allowed: The only home run I’ve ever given up was in high school was this year. It was a fastball at the level of (Gilbert Perry player Max Johansen’s) helmet and he somehow got on top of it and put it over the fence.
Most improved: I feel like my change-up was really good this year. It became an out pitch for me.