Middleton softball’s Aubrey Creekmore returns to lineup after line drive to her face

Aubrey Creekmore will return to Middleton’s lineup in time for the 4A high school state softball tournament Friday and Saturday in Coeur d’Alene.

The senior broke two orbital bones around her eye Friday in the 4A District Three championship game against Bishop Kelly. On the second pitch of the game to leadoff hitter Sydney Engelhardt, Creekmore crept in to guard against a bunt.

But Engelhardt instead swung away and fired a line drive to Creekmore. She tried to raise her glove to defend herself but didn’t have time to react, and the line drive struck her in the left eye, sending her goggles flying and knocking her unconscious on the Middleton infield for a minute and a half.

She was rushed to a hospital, where it took nine stitches to close the gash. But doctors said she didn’t suffer a concussion or any brain bleeding, and she was cleared to play in Middleton’s first trip to the 4A state tournament — and first trip to state in any classification since 2006. She was cleared Monday when the swollen eye reopened for the first time.

“I broke down and kept saying thank you, thank you,” Creekmore said. “I texted my coach right away. He was just as excited as I was. I know I scared him to death when it happened, as well as everyone that was there.”

Middleton (19-4) opens the tournament against Lakeland (8-15) at noon Friday.

Entering the district tournament, Creekmore led Middleton in batting average (.559), on-base percentage (.610) and slugging percentage (.794), all by at least 100 points. She said she will return to third base at state and will wear a protective mask.

Her nine stitches aren’t scheduled to come out until after the tournament, but she said she’s hit better in practice since the injury.

“We hit off live (batting practice Tuesday), and I hit a home run and a triple,” she said.

Creekmore said she’s been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support in the softball community. Bishop Kelly captain Ellie Hanousek delivered flowers and a card from the team. Skyview also sent her flowers.

“It’s really cool to see all the support from the community and the teams,” Creekmore said. “You don’t realize how well respected you are and your team is until something like this happens, and it’s really cool to see.”