Carmel coach Jason Raymond found out about Jenny Behan five years ago. He had heard through the grapevine that Carmel was in line to nab a stud catcher who was in seventh grade at the time.
He got his first look at her the summer before her freshman year at his softball camp.
“I knew immediately Carmel was getting a gem,” Raymond said.
But Raymond almost didn’t get the chance to see Behan in a Carmel uniform. The summer before she went into eighth grade, an accident at home almost ended her softball career.
“I was closing a window and the whole thing shattered and both my arms went through it,” said Behan, now a junior. “My arms were cut up so much and so deep that I had to be sent in an ambulance to the emergency room to have surgery. Doctors had to reattach my tricep muscle and the skin on my wrist. Overall I had close to fifty stitches — both inside and out of my arm with six lacerations on my right arm and one on my left.
“I was out of softball and even everyday activities for over two months. What made this difficult was initially being told I might not be able to play again, and then having to deal with the fact that it would be a long recovery if I did want to play again. Watching my team play without me and not being able to do anything to help was frustrating for me.”
To say the least, Behan made a full recovery. This season, she’s recorded numbers through 15 games that most players would be happy with over a two-season span.
Behan is hitting .615 with nine home runs, 10 doubles, 29 RBI, and 23 runs. She’s just one home run shy of her single-season best of 10 with nearly an entire month remaining to eclipse it. One of her personal goals is to break the state single-season home run record of 24 set in 2012 by Goreville’s Taylor Odom.
According to Raymond, what sets Behan aside from other players is her softball IQ.
“It’s off the charts,” he said. “As a hitter she is always two steps ahead of the pitcher. She thinks the game like no other player that I have ever had in my 12-year career.”
Behan, who has 27 career home runs, also knows a little about winning. She played first base on her summer team, the Beverly Bandits, which won the PGF 16U national title.
She made her mark on the high school scene as a freshman when she hit the go-ahead home run against neighborhood rival Mundelein that helped lead Carmel to a regional title. Behan gets it done in the classroom, too, where she carries a 3.5 GPA and scored a 25 on her ACT.
What motives her? “My pure love of the game,” said Behan, who is committed to play at James Madison. “Ever since I was a little girl, I fell in love with the idea of having individual success within a team environment. Doing whatever it takes to help the team succeed keeps me going every day. I work hard every day at practice, workouts and individual hitting and fielding with my dad for the moments that my team relies on me the most.”
Yep, a real gem.