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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
Not many opponents get past Northside Christian senior catcher Danielle Crisco, who also wields a pretty mean bat.
[Times photo: Bob Croslin]
[Courtesy of Stu Crisco]
Northside Christian's Danielle Crisco competes at the Pikes Peak half-marathon in Colorado Springs with her father, Stu.
Ain't no mountain high enough ...
Danielle Crisco struggled to breathe, her legs feeling like cement blocks.
Then came the hail.
The Northside Christian senior, in the final miles of the Pikes Peak Ascent in Colorado Springs, bore welts for days after the chunks of ice bounced off her body during the half-marathon in August 2005.
Crisco's father, Stu, encouraged her to keep going, to finish the 13-mile gut check that covered nearly 8,000 vertical feet.
"We finished in snow and hail - it was completely miserable," Crisco said. "But it was also an amazing accomplishment. Not many can say they ran up a mountain."
And not many can say they have stolen a base with Crisco behind the plate. The lanky lefty is one of the county's top catchers, throwing out 14 of 16 runners while picking off several more from her knees.
Crisco's arm - and .545 batting average - have helped put Northside Christian 12-4, 8-1 near the top of Class 2A, District 11; the Mustangs travel to play first-place St. Stephens (9-0) today at 4.
"I've coached 11 years of travel ball and she's as good a catcher as I've ever seen," Northside Christian co-head coach Steve Fisher said of the 5-foot-11 senior. "Virtually nobody has been able to steal off her the past two years."
Crisco, 18, stepped in to the cleanup spot after the Mustangs' first home game, when fellow senior Morgan McDonald tore her ACL. But Crisco, who has started since she was a seventh grader, faced her biggest scare last Wednesday, when her father, a St. Petersburg police officer, was knocked unconscious by a manhole cover during the tanker crash on I-375.
Stu, also a Mustangs co-head coach, was first on the scene and was directing traffic when he was hit. All he remembers is waking up at 4 a.m. in the hospital, feeling "like I had been through a train wreck."
"Just bad luck - like my whole career," said Stu Crisco, who has been a cop for 24 years. "I've been shot, hit by a car, fell out of a helicopter - you name it, it's happened to me."
Crisco is fine now, other than a headache that he jokes "won't go away." He's back to helping coach Danielle and soon, he hopes, will return as her running partner.
The accident "was the scariest moment of my life," said Danielle, who will attend Indiana Wesleyan. "He works midnights, one of the dangerous shifts, so he can help coach our team and go to all the games. It makes you treasure every moment."
1. Countryside (17-2): The Cougars, battling injuries and illnesses, await the anticipated showdown with Palm Harbor University on Wednesday.
2. St. Petersburg Catholic (18-1): Beat rival Academy of the Holy Names for the second time and is rolling into districts.
3. Northeast (16-1): The Vikings, ranked No. 8 in Class 5A, will get a tough test tonight at East Lake.
4. Palm Harbor University (19-2): With a win over Seminole this afternoon, the Hurricanes would rack up their 10th consecutive 20-win season.
5. Seminole (15-3): "K-cubed," - Kaci Huneke, Kasey Postupack and Kaycee Lisa - have the Warhawks settled into the district's No. 2 seed.
Honorable mentions: East Lake (14-6), Pinellas Park (12-7), Tarpon Springs (9-7), Canterbury (14-5), Northside Christian (12-4), Osceola (9-5)
Gibbs senior Brittany Hanney has signed with Manatee Community College. Hanney, who has played five positions for the Gladiators (0-15) will play first base for Manatee, ranked No. 5 in the country by the National Junior College Athletics Association.
"It's not too big (of a school) and, to me, it's close enough to home while far enough to still get that college experience," Hanney said.