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|Beach named to DSU Hall of Fame|
Jeannie Crknovic Beach passed on a request for water during a tryout for the Delta State softball team back in mid-1990s.
That move allowed Beach to become one of the Lady Statesmen's best-ever hitters and to earn a spot in the Delta State Hall of Fame.
Beach learned last week that she will be inducted into the Cleveland, Ms., college's Athletic Hall of Fame on April 1.
"I cried and then I called my mom (Shlrley Crknovic) and she cried," Beach said. "Then she started hollering. And she happened to be in the middle of Wal-Mart."
Beach learned late last year that she had been nominated.
"I was excited and really ecstatic about it."
Beach tried out at every position and told DSU head coach John Garris that she caught her freshman year.
"He threw some balls to me and I caught them and threw down to second and third base," Beach said."There was another girl from Jonesville and it was the middle of the summer when we were trying out. I talked with him later and he asked me if I knew how I got selected to the team. I told him I did not. He told me that he asked both of us if we wanted a drink of water. She said yes and I said no. He said that was the defining moment. Thing is, I'm sure I was lying."
Which turned into a good lie for Garris. Beach finished with a .328 career batting average, which still ranks as the 10th best-ever at DSU. She is sixth in career hits (176), second in career walks (71), 11 in career RBIs (80), sixth in career doubles (30), eighth in runs scored (109), eighth in stolen bases (39) and is the all-time leader at Delta State in walks in a season with 29.
Beach was named to the National Fast Pitch Coaches Association All-South Region team in 1997 and '98 and was first team all-Gulf South Conference three straight years. She also received the Golden Glove Award as a junior and senior and won the Slugger Award and Highest Batting Average Award as a senior.
Beach is only the second DSU softball player to be inducted into the Delta State Athletic Hall of Fame. Pitcher Mandi Foster was inducted in 2009.
Beach was a standout for Ferriday High, playing under Carl Dangerfield and James McFarland.
"Fast-pitch was just beginning around here," Beach said. "Ferriday just started softball in 1991. We beat Vidalia once, that was about the highlight. I played softball with most of the girls on the Vidalia team during the summer."
Beach actually struck out 11 Lady Vikings in a 5-3 loss to Vidalia her senior year.
"After my sister (Jennifer Crknovic) and Jennifer Brixey graduated, we didn't have any pitchers," Beach said. "It kind of came down to who was athletic enough to throw strikes. The coaches would draw a circle on the wall and we would throw against the brick wall."
Beach, who played catcher her freshman year and pitched the final three years, also attended a clinic held by Hal Scott of Jonesville.
Ferriday finished second to Vidalia in district Beach's senior year.
The Lady Trojans lost to Farmerville 8-5 in the first round of the playoffs.
Jennifer Crknovic played one year of softball at Nicholls State before deciding to concentrate on her studies to keep her scholarships.
"She was more concerned about academics than I was," Beach said with a laugh.
"She was really fast, so they turned her around on the left side of the plate and made her a slap hitter. She didn't enjoy softball as much as I did."
Beach then went about trying out for college softball teams.
"My mom took me to Northwestern, but they were in-between coaches so I didn't get to try out," Beach said. "I didn't even get any questions answered."
Beach later received a call from Marni Edwards of Jonesville, who played softball at Delta State.
"She asked me if I had graduated and if I wanted to try out at Delta State," Beach said. "I said, 'Who is Delta State.'"
Beach said she had to adjust to conditioning and spending a lot of time in practice.
"I never had that before and I loved the hours we got to spend practicing," she said. It was a great time and a lot of great memories. We won the Gulf States Conference West championship four straight years, which had never been done before. But the other teams were really dominant at the conference tournament. I loved the traveling. We would go to a lot of different states. We played in snow once in Kennesaw, Ga. I still keep in touch with a lot of my teammates.
"The people in Cleveland were great," Beach said. "They took me in like family. There was a man named Ray Wilson who actually helped me through Calculus class. Everybody called him 'Paw Paw.' He and his wife were at every game. They were big softball supporters. I had to call him after I learned about the induction. His wife has passed away, but he was very excited for me."
As were Beach's parents, David and Shirley Crknovic.
"My parents were the main reason for all of my success," Beach said. "Without them and their hard work, none of this would have happened. They both coached me and taught me the fundamentals of softball when I was younger. They were always hard on me and now I understand why. They just wanted to push me and make me better. I love them for that and am so thankful.They taught me life's lessons like how to work hard and how to appreciate the things I had. They were and still are such huge supporters in everything I do."
Beach coached Vidalia High's softball team
"I miss coaching," she said. "I enjoyed being able to share what I learned. My stepdaughter (Darby Beach) is playing, so I'm enjoying helping her."
Beach has two sons, Braxton (10) and Fisher (8).
"I helped coach them in pitching machine, but pitching and batting is different in baseball," she said. "Eddie (Beach's husband) is going to coach Braxton, but I plan on coaching Darby in the summer. I'm looking forward to that."
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