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May 20, 2013

Behnke rakes in all-Great Lakes Region first team honor

After hitting .437 this year and leading the Vikings in nearly every offensive category, sophomore left-fielder Laura Behnke was named to the all-Great Lakes Region first team.

Augustana sophomore leftfielder Laura Behnke (Wheaton St. Francis HS, Roselle, Ill.) has been rewarded for an outstanding season by being named first team all-Great Lakes Region. She was the unquestioned offensive leader for a Viking team that went 32-14, won the College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin Tournament and placed third in the NCAA Division III Pella, Iowa Regional.

After batting .299 in 29 games as a freshman, Behnke exploded during her sophomore season. She led the team with a .437 average as she compiled 66 hits in 151 at-bats with 34 runs scored, 24 runs-batted-in, 10 doubles, five triples and eight home runs. The hard-hitting lefthander who batted in the lead-off slot managed 19 base-on-balls, 10 stolen bases and was hit-by-pitch twice.  She struck out just 16 times in 174 plate appearances.  

A model of consistency all season long, Behnke had 24 multiple-hit games including five where she banged out three hits. She only had one stretch this season where she was held hitless in consecutive games and that came way back on February 28 in games against Ferrum and Alma in Florida. Behnke ended the season on a 10-game hitting streak.  

She hit .500 (5-10) during a three-game sweep to the CCIW Tournament championship in Kenosha, Wisconsin on May 3-4 with three doubles, a triple and two RBI. The next week, at the NCAA Regional, she hit .588 with 10 hits in 17 at-bats with two doubles, a home run and three RBI. Her solo home run in the top of the ninth inning in an elimination game against Washington provided the difference in Augustana's 3-2 victory. She was named to the all-tournament team.  

Behnke was a second-team all-conference selection in the CCIW and was named "Hitter of the Week" in the league twice throughout the season.  

She led the Vikings in at-bats (151), runs scored (34), hits (66), triples (five), home runs (eight) and base-on-balls (19) this year. She also handled 60 chances in left field this year and had 58 put-outs, one assist and one error for a fielding percentage of .983.  

Her spectacular season moved her onto several of Augustana's single-season lists. Her 66 hits is a school record, breaking the old mark of 63 set by All-American Lorena Cernetisch in 2007. She is currently tied for second in at-bats with 151, matching the same number put up by Erin Daniels in 2004.  

Her five triples are tied for fifth and her eight home runs are eighth all-time. Her single season batting average of .437 is just off the top-10 list.  

Augustana has now had an NFCA All-Great Lakes Region selection in each of the last 13 seasons.