Infielder Crawford helps Jeannette softball to first playoffs since 2010

| Wednesday, May 8, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Brianna Crawford, a junior at Jeannette High School, plays third base for the Lady Jays.

Crawford has played ball since she was a 5-year-old getting her start with Jeannette Recreation's T-ball program.

“My dad (Paul Crawford) got me involved,” said Crawford, who added that her father was always active and interested in sports, which rubbed off on his daughter.

“I liked just getting a chance to play, getting dirty and having fun with friends. I think that's why I loved the game.”

In softball, Crawford has a chance to sink her teeth into the intense moments of the game at third base.

“I have to be on my toes at all times. You have to always think what you're going to do next and keep focused. If the ball comes to me, what am I going to do? You have to calm yourself down, have fun and play the game.”

In the summer, she'll play on the U18 Jeannette team coached by Roy Hall, starting pitcher Nicole Hall's father.

“It's so fun,” said Crawford. That team is made up of many of the same players as the Lady Jays, a group of girls preparing for their first playoff run after securing a share of the section title last week.

“Coach Dee (Cortazzo) is awesome. No matter how many plays you mess up or how mad you get at yourself, she picks you back up. She understands how much we love the game.”

This year's team will take the girls back to the playoffs for the first time since 2010.

“They're amazing,” Crawford said of her teammates. “I wouldn't trade them for the world. They're basically my sisters. We're tough at heart. We're always just looking to have fun and get another win.”

Winning the section was a major goal for this year's team and the girls are all excited to have succeeded.

“We've dedicated this season to the Cortazzos,” Crawford said. Dee Cortazzo's husband and senior Delaney Cortazzo's father Chris Cortazzo passed away earlier this year. Chris Cortazzo was active in Jeannette athletics and was a big supporter of the team.

“It made us more focused and made us come together for Dee and Delaney. We wanted to prove to Chris, ‘We got this. We know you're still here and this one's for you.'”

The team will learn their opponents this week and the playoffs should begin next week.

“I'm so excited,” she said. “I think we're going to make it pretty far. Hopefully further than other teams have made it. We hope to win the championship.”

Crawford planes to attend college to study nursing, likely starting out at community college before transferring elsewhere. She's known that nursing was her calling for a long time as she's never suffered from any aversion to blood or injuries.

She'd like to continue to play softball after high school if given the chance.

Crawford is the daughter of Paul Crawford and Jamie Hickman. She has a twin sister, Brittany, and a younger sister Brylin Hickman.

She would like to thank her parents for their support.

“I thank my dad for pushing me and helping me to understand the game better and helping me get the mindset that I'm not always going to be the number one ball player,” she said. “I thank my mom for staying by my side through my tantrums and messing up and coming home with a bad mood and letting it out on her.”

Kristie Linden is an editor for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at or 724-838-5154.

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