Homestead NOW All-Suburban softball team shortstop Hannah Behnken admits that her mother, Laura Behnken, is a sucker for good causes.
That Hannah and the rest of the Highlander softball team gets pulled along into the process is just an added bonus.
Take for example the foggy day not too long ago when Hannah and the team, along with the Cedarburg squad, got to pose for pictures with former Wisconsin First Lady Sue Ann Thompson with a check for $1,200 that eventually wound up in Thompson's Wisconsin Women's Health Foundation.
It was money raised at the "Strike Out Breast Cancer-Pink Softball Game" back on May 12 that the two teams played.
"We sold t-shirts and baked goods and other things; it was a lot of fun," said Hannah Behnken.
Much like this interesting 16-8 season the Highlanders had as the junior Hannah hit lead-off and powered a Highlander offense that propelled the team into the WIAA sectional semifinals.
That was a highlight of the season, along with the Highlanders breaking of four-time North Shore champion Germantown's 51-game league winning streak with a 4-1 decision on May 21 during which Hannah had a hit and scored a run
"Last year, we had a lot of sophomores on the team and, this year, we were mostly juniors," said Hannah Behnken. "We were more relaxed and had a lot more fun. No one was afraid anymore. We all knew the rules better and had a better grasp on the game."
She certainly did, as the first-team All-District and third-team All-State selection had a monster season, earning North Shore Conference Player of the Year honors after hitting .522 with 43 runs scored, 20 doubles, four triples, and 29 RBIs. She also achieved the remarkable feat of picking up a hit in all 14 of Homestead's North Shore Conference games.
"It was better than last year because I really worked on my mental approach," Hannah Behnken said. "I was also able to see the pitch better. Last year I was so worried and edgy, but this year I was more relaxed. I was able to let little mistakes go. I was also better on defense, more consistent with my throwing."
Veteran coach Dave Keel said he didn't know what the team would have done without her.
"She was just someone who did a little bit of everything for us," he said. "She set her bar high and she just keeps raising it, getting better and better. Just an outstanding defensive player."
Hannah Behnken is looking to continue that trend this summer playing with the Shoreline Smash U-18 team made up of players from the far north end of the North Shore. She will also return for her senior year on the Homestead girls' volleyball team where she was a libero last season.
She is also looking forward to her senior year of softball. The Highlanders graduated only one senior this season (first baseman Sydney Beckers) and will be prime contenders to finally unseat their rivals from Germantown.
Returning all-conference choices Michaela Rusch (outfield) and Allie Beckers (pitcher) will help in the process.
Hannah Behnken is just now starting to think of college and of potentially playing on that level. When she gets that far, she would like to major in business.
"I'm really excited for next year," she said.
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