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updated: 6/12/2014 1:11 PM

Carmel's Behan breaks through with 18-homer season

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  • Carmel's Jenny Behan prepares to take a rip during Class 4A regional play against Libertyville.

       Carmel's Jenny Behan prepares to take a rip during Class 4A regional play against Libertyville.
    George LeClaire | Staff Photographer


During another home-run trot, which happened to be a record breaker, Jenny Behan circled third base and experienced something even better.

Kathleen Felicelli, whose record had just been busted, had broken into a proud smile.

A friendship would not be shattered.

Behan says after Joliet Catholic served up her school-record 13th home run this season, her teammate Felicelli came up to her and gave her a huge hug.

Bet on Behan never forgetting that smooth move by her senior teammate. Felicelli had jacked 12 home runs during her sophomore season.

"She was so proud of me," said Behan, who's played with Felicelli since her freshman year on varsity. "It made me realize how much our team supports each other and how personal accomplishments are second to the team."

Behan, Carmel Catholic's slugging junior third baseman, accomplished plenty this softball season. She finished with a staggering 18 home runs, a feat that no Lake County player has ever achieved, unless you count Barrington's Loren Krzysko, who pounded 18 homers last season. Behan's single-season homer total ties her for sixth place all-time in IHSA history.

Add a .504 batting average, which broke her own single-season record of .438 that she set last year, and Behan is the captain of the Daily Herald Lake County All-Area team.

The three-time all-area selection had 55 hits, in total, drove in 55 runs, scored 42 times, posted a .552 on-base percentage and registered a mere 1.110 slugging percentage. With runners in scoring position, all Behan did was go 21-for-33 (.636).

She belted home runs that sailed high and home runs that were hit on a line. Six times, she homered twice in a game.

"I do hit for power, but I don't think about hitting home runs when I am up to bat," said Behan, who gave a verbal commitment to James Madison University as a sophomore. "I think about hitting runners in when they're in scoring position and passing the bat in critical situations."

Like any good power hitter -- like Felicelli, in fact -- Behan's base explains her ability to drive the ball far.

"The power from my swing comes from my legs and my core, primarily," Behan said. "While I do have very strong arms, I can tell the difference in a hit when I keep my legs strong and core tight and when I use my arms too much. My arms give a hit the last 'umph' it needs."

Behan was more than a must-watch hitter. Defensively, she cut her errors from 11 last season to five this year.

"Jenny improved tremendously in the field this year," coach Jason Raymond said. "The biggest area of improvement with Jenny is in her consistency with her performance both in the field and at the plate."

"Aside from taking a lot more reps at third base, it was actually a lot more mental preparation that helped me," Behan said. "After the amazing summer that my travel team, the Beverly Bandits-Tyrell, had with winning the Boulder (Colo.) Independence Day tournament and PGF 16U Nationals, I had a lot more confidence as a player both up to bat and on the field. Also, coming back for a third season at Carmel, as an upper classman, I felt like my teammates depended on me more and I had to step up my play in order to help the team."

With 36 career home runs, Behan, who's a two-time All-East Suburban Catholic Conference selection, will head into next season one homer shy of Carmel's school record. Who holds it? Felicelli, of course.

For Behan, however, it's not all about the long ball. Carmel went 18-18 this season, losing in its own Class 4A regional final to Libertyville. The Corsairs lost Felicelli and fellow veteran Amy Abel to graduation.

"Even after hitting 18 home runs, there is still a lot to accomplish," Behan said. "I would love to make it downstate before I graduate. Even with losing two key players in Kathleen and Amy, we have enough returning players to make a run at being state contenders next season.

"On a personal level," she added, "I am always looking to improve on my previous season in all aspects, not just home runs."

She got better this season. If she keeps improving, more records, like balls pitched to her, will go bye-bye.

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