Palm Beach Atlantic Announces Four Early Signings for Sailfish Softball
January 11, 2010
Written By: Michael Brown, PBA Sports Information Director
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.- Getting a jumpstart on her recruiting, Palm Beach Atlantic University softball coach Kimmy Bloemers has announced four players that have signed National Letters of Intent (NLI) to continue their education and play softball for the Sailfish next season. A quartet of Florida residents, Camille Benito, Mackenzie Johnson, Brianna Parker, and Lauren Powell all inked their names to NLI’s in this fall to officially decide on Palm Beach Atlantic as their college choice.
Coming off a historic 2009 season which saw the Sailfish top 30 wins for the second consecutive season while also earning the program’s first-ever National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) National Championship, the expectations and goals continue to rise for the PBA softball program.
Competing in the highly-competitive NCAA Division II South Region, Coach Bloemers and her staff continue to seek out student-athletes that not only fit the mold of a well-rounded PBA student but also ones who love the game in which they play.
“I have had a lot of fun recruiting these four very talented young ladies. Not only are they great athletes but great students and outstanding individuals. I am a blessed coach to have these players on my team next year,” said Bloemers.
Camille Benito (Miami, Florida)
A long-time standout both as a pitcher and a hitter at Westminster Christian School in Miami, Florida, under head coach Scott Doan, Camille Benito is a 5’10” right-handed pitcher with a long list of high school accolades. Benito played under Gator Rebhan for the Miami Stingrays 18U travel team for the past four seasons as well.
Having helped lead the WCS Warriors since she was in the seventh grade, Benito has long since established herself as potential standout player at the collegiate level.
“Camille has the ability to be a threat in many areas on the diamond. She is a hard worker and takes charge. I know with her determination she will have an amazing career here at PBA,” said Bloemers.
Benito was named to the All-County 2nd Team in seventh and eighth grade before stepping up her game even further once officially at the high school level. As a freshman, Benito jumped to All-County 1st-Team while also being honored with an All-State 2nd Team selection as she helped lead Westminster to the 2A State Championship game.
Things continued to look up from there for Benito both as an individual and for her Warriors team. After another All-County 1st-Team selection as a sophomore, Benito aided the Warriors back to the title game last season as a junior where they earned the 2A State Championship with Benito earning All-State 1st-Team honors. Additionally, Benito took home the honor of Miami Herald Hitter of the Year and the Miracle Sports Florida Pitcher of the Year accolade.
While obviously a talented softball player, Coach Bloemers and the Sailfish know they are getting more than just a gifted athlete. While at Westminster, Benito participated in the school choir, was a National Honors Society member, as well as earning a spot on the High Honor Roll every semester since the seventh grade.
Camille is the daughter of Manny and Carol Benito.
Mackenzie Johnson (Winter Springs, Florida)
Continuing the recent tradition of talented PBA softball players hailing from the Orlando area, Winter Springs High School standout Mackenzie Johnson has decided upon Palm Beach Atlantic as her college choice.
A versatile infielder who has played mostly at shortstop and third-base, Johnson will join an already talented Sailfish infield as another dangerous option for Coach Bloemers with her bat and her glove.
“Mackenzie is strong on both defense and offense. She is able to play many positions and play them all very well. She is a quiet leader and respects the game very much. She will help us win a lot of games,”
Having played for head coach Mark Huaman as a four-year varsity letter winner at WSHS, Johnson began her prep softball career as a member of the Altamonte Christian team where she earned All-Conference 1st-Team honors as an eighth grader before enrolling at Winter Springs.
While playing for the Bears, Johnson has earned multiple All-Conference selections and enters her senior season this spring poised for another solid showing. As a junior, Johnson was named as one of the Orlando Sentinel’s “Best Infielders” after tallying a .995 fielding percentage as a third-baseman.
On the travel ball circuit, Johnson has most recently suited up for the Gold Coast Hurricanes and the Tampa Heatwave where she recently helped lead the Heatwave to a FAST National Championship hosted in Ocoee, Florida. This was the second FAST championship team that Johnson had been a part of after also previously winning a championship with the South Florida Minibulls.
As a younger player, Johnson also tallied two gold medals at the Disney Sports Complex with 14U Orlando No Fear and 12U Seminole Warriors.
Beyond softball competition, Johnson has also been a solid contributor on the volleyball court and the golf course as she has earned team MVP status in volleyball and an All-Conference 2nd Team selection in golf.
Away from the athletic fields, Johnson has also found success as she has accumulated a 4.1 grade-point average and been named to the Principal’s Honor Roll and a member of the National Honor Society. With hopes of one day being a Pediatrician, Johnson will enroll at PBA with a major of pre-medicine.
Mackenzie is the daughter of Bill and Stephanie Johnson. She has three siblings, Kelsey (18), Marshall (15), and Harrison (13). Kelsey is a freshman softball player at Spring Arbor University in Michigan.
Brianna Parker (Jensen Beach, Florida)
Coming from a strong softball tradition at Jensen Beach High School, Parker is a pitcher and second-baseman for the Falcons and has played for head coach Lori Miller. With current PBA seniors Ashley Jones and Heather Laird departing the program after the 2010 season, Parker will join Benito as new faces along with returner Chris Donovan to reload the Sailfish pitching rotation.
Parker may stand only 5’1” inside the pitcher’s circle, but Bloemers is confident Parker will add another solid option to help keep opponents off balance and the score in favor of the Fish.
“Brianna is an overall great athlete. She is a spark plug and has infectious enthusiasm. I love her passion and excitement for this great game of softball. Brianna will make the Sailfish proud,” said Bloemers.
Not only a strong pitching prospect, Parker also will look to see time as an infielder after earning a Gold Glove in high school for her defensive abilities in addition to team MVP honors for JBHS.
Parker also earned multiple All-Conference nods during her prep career while earning Miracle Sports All-State 2nd Team honors as a junior. Parker finished 18-5 as a junior for the Falcons with an impressive 1.28 earned-run average with 153 strikeouts including 17 punch outs in a narrow regional quarterfinal loss.
A versatile player no doubt, Parker has also involved herself with a lot of other extracurricular activities off the softball diamond. A 4.0 student who is a member of the National Honor Society, Parker also has been involved with Student Government, Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), as well assisting as a teacher’s aide for kindergarten and special needs students.
With hopes of one day being a pediatric nurse, Parker will enroll at PBA in the fall as a nursing student.
Brianna is the daughter of David and Jeannie Parker and has two siblings, Tyler (14), and Madelyn (9).
Lauren Powell (Bradenton, Florida)
Rounding out the early signings for the Sailfish this fall is Braden River High School product Lauren Powell. A two-sport star while at BRHS, Powell has seen her fair share of accolades as a four-year starting catcher and outside hitter for the Pirates volleyball team.
A quick and athletic receiver who can also play the outfield, Powell will enroll at PBA in the fall with hopes of attaining a Pharmacy degree as she will be looked upon to help replace departing senior Candace Horton while joining current sophomore Erica Walters as options behind the plate for the Fish.
“Lauren has proven herself as a strong and consistent competitor. She is a smart player and wants to win games. She will do whatever it takes to be the best for her team,” said Bloemers.
As a catcher for head coach KD Johnson, Powell earned All-Area 1st-Team honors as a freshman and junior with hopes of bringing home even more accolades this spring as a senior. As a junior, Powell finished with a .538 batting average with 10 doubles, five triples, and two homeruns while driving in 26 runs.
On the volleyball court, Powell was recently honored as the Bradenton Herald Volleyball Player of the Year after leading the Pirates to a 23-7 finish and a spot in the 4A Region 3 Finals this past fall.
A solid academic performer in the classroom as well, Powell earned Academic Letters each year of high school for a grade-point average over 3.7. She has also been involved with Student Government and a member of the National Honor Society.
Lauren is the daughter of Doug Powell and Kim Humphries. She has two siblings, Elizabeth Powell and Dylan Humphries.