Blackmon, Benoit blasting into summer with HR derby
Swing after swing, Tate High’s Logan Blackmon and Catholic High’s Donovan Benoit showed nerves of steel, manufacturing clutch hits when their respective baseball teams needed it most this past season.
They have both been a part of crucial FHSAA playoff games, statewide all-star games and have impressed the right people at the next level (Benoit, University of Tennessee signee; Blackmon, Pensacola State College commit).
But … neither star has competed in a home run derby.
That will soon change, and in thrilling fashion for Benoit, Blackmon, Catholic High, Tate High and local baseball fans.
Benoit and Blackmon will join two other high-school athletes June 19 at Blue Wahoos Stadium for the High School All-Star Home Run Derby. The event will serve as part of Southern League All-Star Fan Fest – part of the festivities surrounding the Southern League All-Star game June 20.
“I’m very excited to participate,” Blackmon said, who’s three-year varsity numbers at Tate include: .328 batting average, 60 hits, 40 RBIs and 34 runs. “It’s a great chance to show people what you can do and the abilities I’ve accumulated throughout my career.
“Home run derbys are a great part of baseball. It shows all the strength a person possesses and everyone gets excited to see long home runs hit. It’s something that easily grabs people’s attention.”
With both seniors leading two of the area’s most prestigious baseball programs in home runs this season (Benoit, 7; Blackmon, 5), it’s clear both can handle the pressures of the big stage.
Both Benoit and Blackmon are less than eight days removed from the postseason and represented the area at the FACA All-Star Games in Lakeland Monday and Tuesday (along with Pace High’s Jake Nemith). With the High School All-Star Home Run Derby around the corner, it’s certainly a hot start to both of their post-prep baseball careers.
“I’m blessed .. .it hasn’t come easily,” Benoit said. “I’ve worked reallly hard for four years, it’s very humbling to get this kind of recognition. Making it to state was a great experience and this has been one of the best year’s of my life. You don’t get that unless you put in the work.
“I think the cool thing about a home run derby is that it brings everyone, even people who don’t necessarily like baseball, out to watch. It’s a really cool opportunity to get to participate (in High School All-Star Home Run Derby) – especially with it being at Wahoos Stadium.”
Blackmon and Benoit will be joined by a senior from South Walton High and a sophomore from Niceville High.
Austin Garofalo, Walton County’s All-Time Home Run leader, racked up 11 home runs this season as a senior for South Walton High School. In April, Garofalo committed to Marion Military Institute to play baseball. Garofalo posted a batting average of .438 during his two years of Varsity Baseball.
Rece Hinds, rated the second-best shortstop of the 2019 class and the nation’s seventh-rated sophomore prospect, took the field for the Niceville Eagles this past season hitting 11 home runs. In April, Hinds committed to Louisiana State University.
High School All-Star Home Run Derby
When: June 19
When: June 19
Where: Blue Wahoos Stadium
Participants: Logan Blackmon (Tate High), Donovan Benoit (Catholic), Austin Garofalo (South Walton High), Rece Hinds (Niceville).