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All-Decade fall softball spotlight: Crane takes pride in her championship legacy at Troy

From the All-Decade fall softball series
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When Emily Crane started playing softball at Troy Buchanan High 12 years ago, she didn't expect it to be the springboard for a spectacular professional career.

The Post-Dispatch fall softball player of the decade, Crane's life still largely revolves around the diamond thanks to her time as a Trojan.

Now an assistant coach at Maryville University and a current member of the Chicago Bandits of the National Professional Fastpitch softball league, Crane continues to follow her passion — even if that fact seems surreal to her.

“Quite honestly, I never dreamed of my life looking like it currently does,” said Crane, who graduated from Troy in 2012 and has been a professional softball player for the last five years in the NPF. “I have been very blessed over the last 10 years to have been able to be a part of all the many things I have. Playing professionally is truly something special I get to say that I do. With pro softball not being able to be my only job, lucky for me I was able to find a job here in St. Louis coaching at Maryville.”

Crane's journey began when she was a freshman at Troy in 2008 and took off during her senior season in 2011, when she helped the Trojans claim the Class 4 state championship. Troy went 29-4 that season and Crane played a pivotal role in helping the school capture its first team title in any sport.

She was the Post-Dispatch All-Metro fall softball player of the year in 2011.

In her final high school season, Crane hit .563 with 10 doubles, five, triples, five home runs and 28 RBI and was named the Missouri Gatorade softball player of the year. The year prior, Crane was among the area leaders in runs scored (55) and hits (61) and was the Gateway Athletic Conference South player of the year for a team that went undefeated in conference play and was 28-3 overall. She was a first-team Class 4 All-State selection.

“Troy Buchanan — my roots,” said Crane, who helped Troy go 100-18 over four seasons. “I had a few personal goals and one team goal that I wanted to accomplish when I left Troy. My team goal was simple — win a state championship. Being able to be the first team sport to ever win it at my high school was amazing and I truly will never forget those days.”

Neither will the Troy community of 12,456 located 55 miles northwest of St. Louis. Crane left a legacy in Troy that has set the softball program on a path to success.

The Trojans are 213-46 since 2011 and have since captured a state title (2016) and a second-place finish (2018). During that span, Troy has never lost more than seven games in a season or won fewer than 18.

“(She is) one of the most athletic individuals I have had the privilege to coach,” Troy coach Lance Richardson said. “I have said before that I think she could have picked a number of sports and been able to play them at the highest level, she was that athletic. Her unbelievable softball career has drawn many young ladies in our community to chase their dream athletically in the game of softball as well.”

Crane, who also lettered in soccer and basketball, said it was always her goal to improve the program while honing her personal craft to become the player and coach she is today. 

“I was raised to leave things better than I found them,” Crane said. “It was in my blood to make sure that Troy softball got on the map and stayed there. I would say for the most part, this still remains true. I will never forget my freshman year on the first day of practice. Coach Richardson was the new head coach and I immediately fell in love with the way he coached the game. His intensity, his personality, his humor and his grit to win no matter what. I wanted that. I was so blessed to be coached by him along with (assistant) coach (Brent) Lovell. They are the reason I got to experience some of the success I have.”

After high school, Crane had a prolific career at the University of Missouri. Prior to graduating in 2016, she earned All-American honors and was a two-time all-Southeastern Conference selection in 2015 and 2016.

She hit .404 with 17 home runs and 61 RBI for the Tigers before being drafted in the second round of the NPF Draft by the Scrap Yard Dawgs, located in the Houston area, in 2016. She was traded to the Bandits the following year and is coming off her fourth professional season playing in the outfield for Chicago. She hit .299 with 23 hits, including five home runs, three doubles and 13 RBI last year.

Chicago posted a 38-7 record in 2019, its best mark since its inaugural season in 2005. The Bandits won NPF championships in 2008, 2011 and 2015.

After serving as a volunteer assistant coach at Missouri, Crane joined the Maryville staff as an assistant coach in 2019. Crane assists Maryville head coach Courtney Conley during the college season from February to May before the start of the NPF season in June. 

Through everything the game has thrown at her, Crane is happy her journey has always led her back to the diamond.

“There have been lots of emotions with this sport over the last decade — happy tears, sad tears, success and defeat,” Crane said. “Above all, the people I have had the pleasure of meeting and becoming friends with has been one of the biggest takeaways of my journey.”

ALL-DECADE FIRST TEAM

ALL-DECADE SECOND TEAM

ALL-DECADE THIRD TEAM

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