Middle Tennessee outfielder Blake Benefield has been named to the Louisville Slugger All-American Baseball team, as announced by Collegiate Baseball Wednesday.

Benefield, a Murfreesboro native, becomes MTSU’s first freshman All-American since Jonathan Frebis in 2012. Benefield is also just the fifth freshman All-American in program history, joining Frebis, Nate Jaggers (2002), John Williams (2001) and Brad Howard (1997).

Overall, Benefield is the 16th player in Blue Raider history to earn All-American status.

“It is an elite group, especially when you are talking about freshmen all-americans and the careers those guys went on to have,” Middle Tennessee Head Coach Jim McGuire said. “This is a great honor for Blake, for the program and it is one that is very well deserved.”

Benefield, who is playing summer baseball in the Great Lakes League in Michigan, had a strong breakout campaign for the Blue Raiders. He hit .286 and led the team in home runs (8), doubles (15), RBI (32) and slugging percentage (.492).

“This is such a great honor,” Benefield said. “When you look at the list and see all of the great outfielders it really makes you feel good. I have played against several of those guys. It was good to see my name up there with so many high-volume players.”

Benefield, who was the only C-USA outfielder to make the list, had a strong overall season and showed steady improvement as the campaign unfolded.

“If you look back to the start of the season he was not in the everyday lineup right out of the gate,” McGuire said. “We eventually moved him to the four-hole and kept him in those situations. It just shows how hard he worked at it and the adjustments he made. In the end he led us in RBI, home runs, doubles, several categories, to put together a very good year. He was arguably our best player over the last month or so.”

It is hard to argue with the numbers.

Over the last 20 games Benefield’s .351 batting average was second only to Riley Delgado’s .352. During that stretch he led the team with five home runs, 20 RBI, eight doubles, 26 hits and a whopping .662 slugging percentage.

“I still have a lot to do,” Benefield said. “I have to get bigger, stronger and keep working. This really is a great accomplishment. Individually, I had a good year and probably exceeded my expectations. I got to see everything I wanted as a freshman and get that under my belt. It is going to be great to have an entire summer to work against college pitchers in a collegiate league. I’m working to improve every day.”

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