Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local Sports

February 15, 2013

Boyd’s Crooks already set on Rio Grande

CANNONSBURG — Boyd County junior outfielder Brianna Crooks made up her mind early about the University of Rio Grande.

With two high school softball seasons still ahead of her, Crooks signed a National Letter or Intent on Thursday afternoon in the new BCHS cafeteria.

“I visited there about 2 1/2 weeks ago and got to practice with their team,” Crooks said of the NAIA school in southeastern Ohio. “The girls all seemed to welcome me. It just feels like home. I didn’t want to be anywhere else.”

She also considered Georgetown, but likes the close proximity of Rio Grande and has “a bunch of friends that go there.”

Crooks, wearing a Rio fleece for the occasion, said two of her KC Diamond Gems teammates — junior Samantha Nixon and senior Autumn Griffith from Ohio high schools— will be joining the RedStorm program. Another KC Diamond player, Mattie Lawson, is now a freshman at Rio Grande.

Career plans also weighed heavily in Crooks’ decision.

“Rio has an awesome early education program, that’s another big reason I was steered that way,” she said.

Second-year RedStorm head coach Kristen Bradshaw is looking forward to Crooks’ arrival in the fall of 2014.

“This is the first junior we’ve signed,” Bradshaw said. “I’m really excited to get her committed early.”

Crooks batted .389 during her sophomore season for a Boyd County team that won 29 games, including the 64th District championship, and finished runner-up in the 16th Region Tournament for the third year in a row. She hit nine doubles, drove in 28 runs and scored 21.

“Leading up to my sophomore year, I worked extremely hard in the offseason with Tony Ellis at KC Diamond and my dad (Steve Crooks),” Brianna said. “They really helped me. I think I only struck out twice last season.”

Bradshaw sees a player beginning to come into her own.

“I like her speed. I like her arm from the outfield,” said the Rio Grande coach. “Bri really seemed to fit into our team, and what I keep saying is that she’s still young. She hasn’t even been an upperclassmen.”

Crooks, preparing for her third year as a starter in the BCHS lineup, receives high marks from coach Geoff Stewart.

“Bri is one of the hardest workers I’ve ever been around,” Stewart said. “She wants to succeed. She’s a team player and a pleasure to be around, on and off the softball field.”

Stewart said Crooks’ early signing will “relieve a lot of stress and allow her to concentrate on her goals for the next two seasons.”

Crooks hopes to help lead the Lady Lions to district and regional championships this year and next.

Last season, Crooks hit a one-out single in the district finals to set the state for Taylor Wheeler’s game-winning two-run homer. For the season, Crooks led her team in two-out hits.

”We’re tickled to death if there are two outs and Bri Crooks is coming up,” Stewart said. “She’s a very clutch hitter. We expect huge things from her this year.”

Crooks is likely to take over for graduated Kaitlin Brown in center field.

“Bri is an extremely talented outfielder with a strong arm and great mechanics when it comes down to tracking fly balls,” Stewart said. “When you mention Boyd County softball, people think of Emily Stewart and Taylor Wheeler. I feel like Bri is one of our top players. She’s fast approaching that level.”

ROCKY STANLEY can be reached at rstanley@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2671.


Text Only
Local Sports
  • ZACK KLEMME: Punchless Reds wasting solid pitching

    The last nine days have been an exercise in understanding just how slim the margin for error is for baseball teams — even good ones — that can’t score.

    July 27, 2014

  • 0726fbPrac0079.jpg Practice rolls on as kickoff approaches in less than 5 weeks

    As high school football teams strap on helmets and prepare for Friday nights next month, the theme of the first couple of weeks of practice for most is simple.
    You gotta work. Hard.
    And if you don’t, it’ll be exposed come Aug. 22.
    “Everybody looks good in helmets,” Ashland coach Tony Love said with a grin. “We’re all undefeated. There’s a lot of work to get done.
    “Our coaches and kids, we all know it, and that’s why they’re here and we’re here, and we’re gonna push hard every day.”

    July 25, 2014 4 Photos

  • kenzie-breaststroke.jpg Pennington makes push for Nationals

    Swimmer Kenzie Pennington had one last chance to make the cut for this year’s YMCA Long Course National Championships.
    The 15-year-old from Ashland didn’t disappoint.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Salyers shoots 75 for title at Lakeside

    Baylee Salyers of Flatwoods shot a 3-over par 75 at Lakeside Golf Course on Thursday to win the Girls Open division of the Walmart Kentucky PGA Junior Tour event.

    July 24, 2014

  • 0724putnamwebshot.JPG Laying the foundation Workers are finishing the foundation for the locker room on the home side of Putnam Stadium on Tuesday. The Ashland Tomcats open the football season on Aug. 22 against Newport Catholic.

    July 23, 2014

  • Genuine throwback

    Todd Eastham is disproving the old cliche, “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.”

    July 23, 2014

  • MARK MAYNARD: Looking for those who inspire

    Inspirtation, they say, comes from within. It is defined as an inspiring or animating action or influence.

    July 22, 2014

  • 0722KYPGA_152.jpg Jones tops Gillum in playoff at Eagle Trace

    Ashland senior golfer Logan Jones didn't shoot his average Monday.
    He didn't mind.
    His three-over par 75 and one-hole playoff win over Elliott County junior Ryan Gillum gave him the Boys Open division title in the Kentucky PGA Junior Tour stop at Morehead State University's Eagle Trace Golf Course.

    July 21, 2014 6 Photos

  • 102213_329a.jpg Raceland tabs Clark as new girls basketball coach

    Jason Clark has a reputation of being — to use his word — “passionate” on the Raceland volleyball sideline.
    He plans to bring that same approach as the Lady Rams’ new basketball coach.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0305region2_389.jpg Pass the Mayo: East sophomore PG, Lady Raiders preparing for winter run

    East Carter sophomore point guard Kristen Mayo has played basketball for as long as she can remember.

    July 18, 2014 2 Photos