MIDDLETON — The result of Friday’s game ended up being the secondary matter of importance for the Middleton High softball squad, even though the 4A District III title was on the line.
The Vikings suffered an 11-0 five-inning loss to Bishop Kelly — the district title is the third straight for the Knights and both teams have secured berths to next week’s state tournament — but the health of standout Middleton third baseman Aubrey Creekmore overshadowed anything that occurred in the contest.
Creekmore was hit in the face by a line drive off the bat of Knights leadoff hitter Sydney Engelhardt to open the game and was taken by ambulance to a hospital for precautionary reasons.
“She was coherent, she knew where she was at, she knew what was going on and who we were playing,” Middleton coach Rob Kiser said. “She knew everything except what happened to her. They didn’t think there were any other injuries.”
Engelhardt’s liner drilled Creekmore on the left side of the face, sent her glasses flying and left a big gash above her left eye. Creekmore slowly fell to the ground and trainers from both schools came to her aid and her father rushed down from the press box.
Middleton Fire and Rescue were called to the scene and Canyon County Paramedics followed. Creekmore was wheeled off the field on a stretcher while holding an ice pack on her swollen face.
Creekmore later tweeted out a photo of her face from the hospital. She wrote that she suffered two fractured orbital bones and received nine stitches.
Kiser said she was released from West Valley Medical Center and that with a mask she may be able to play in the Vikings’ first round state playoff game against Sandpoint next Friday in Coeur d’Alene.
“It’s hard when they lose a leader on the team because she plays a really big role,” said Engelhardt, who had a homer and four RBIs to fuel Bishop Kelly’s offense. “I saw it happen and I actually thought second base was going to field it and I saw her glasses shoot off.”
The contest was delayed 20 minutes and the Vikings were shaken over what occurred. Middleton losing pitcher Shelby Jarvis retired the first hitter after play resumed before Delaney Atkins smacked a two-run homer over the center-field fence to start the Bishop Kelly charge.
The blast added to the pall lingering over the Vikings and sapped more air out of the squad.
“Not just the air, but the emotion of seeing one of their teammates in that unfortunate situation,” Kiser said. “It is one of those freak things that happen that you rarely have to deal with and we weren’t able to emotionally deal with it very well, which is understandable.”
The Knights added three runs in the third and one in the fourth and then put the game away with a five-run fifth. Jenna Strop stroked a two-run single to make it 8-0 and Engelhardt followed with a mammoth three-run blast to center.
Middleton, which has qualified for the 4A state tournament for the first time, managed just three hits off winning pitcher Emily Baca.
“We were shaken but BK played well,” first baseman Hailee Kiser said. “I’m not going to say we lost because we lost Aubrey but I think that was maybe a little bit part of it because we didn’t play like we usually play. BK played lights out.”