SALEM-The complexion of an otherwise mundane game changed in an instant for the West Branch softball team Thursday.
The Warriors routed Salem 10-0 at Southeast Elementary school, but the mood after the game was one of uncertainty. West Branch senior Cheyenne Miller-a first-team All-Ohio catcher and four-year starter-left in the seventh inning with a painful knee injury. Her status for the rest of the season is currently unknown.
"We are hoping it is just a sprain, but we don't know," West Branch coach Jennifer Woods said. "We are going to get her looked at Friday and we'll go from there."
West Branch improves to 5-1 overall and 2-1 in the Northeastern Buckeye Conference, Salem drops to 3-5, 1-3.
Miller's injury occurred in the top of the seventh with the Warriors ahead 9-0. Miller-who finished 3-for-5 with three RBIs-smacked a ball into the gap in right-center field. She took a hard turn around second then apruptly tried to turn back as the throw came in from the outfield. Her metal cleats stuck in the ground and she went down in a heap clutching her left knee.
"I didn't make a very good turn around second base I tried to stop, but my foot completely stuck," Miller said. "I could hear my knee pop and then it cracked. I can't even walk on it right now so I have no idea what to expect for the rest of the season."
Miller was down for several minutes before being helped off the field. She spent the rest of the game with her leg elevated in the dugout.
"I didn't want to look at it, I was really scared," Miller said. "It felt like I pulled my kneecap out of place. If I stand up my kneecap goes to the other side of my leg, it feels like jello. It's popping in and out right now."
Miller said it was her first athletic injury of any kind.
"I've never really even had pulled muscles or anything like that," Miller said. "I've never experienced anything like this. It was really scary when it happened."
Prior to the seventh, it had been a fun afternoon for the Warriors. After scoring two runs in the first, West Branch moved ahead 6-0 in the second with three straight two-out hits: an RBI single by Kaylie Lewis, a two-run single by Bailey Byers and an RBI triple by Miller. Byers finished with two singles and two RBIs, while Sarah Weber doubles, singled and walked twice.
"We had some really hard-hit balls today," Woods said. "Even our outs were loud. I think we did a nice job of staying patient at the plate early and waiting for some good pitches to hit."
Salem had multiple runners on base in the first, fourth and sixth innings but could not take advantage. Raegan Meals led the Quakers with a single and a walk. Freshman pitcher Clara Janofa started on the mound for the Quakers but had command problems from the start and lasted two innings before being relieved.
"I was happy with our aggression and contact at the plate, but their defense made some nice plays," Salem coach Jodie Hippely said. "Unfortunately, West Branch also had a patient approach at the plate. Clara (Janofa) is more of a junk ball pitcher and they did a nice job of laying off her pitches."
West Branch will host Canton South today at noon while also playing wait-and-see with Miller.
"It's a big blow," Woods said. "Cheyenne hit .500 for us last year, she's our leader, she does a great job running our infield and handling our pitchers. We'll just have to wait and fill-in if we need to."
The West Branch jayvee softball team beat Salem 17-3. Lauren Stitle had three singles and a double for the Warriors while Elasivich had two singles and two RBIs.
The Warriors also have their leading pitcher-Kaylie Lewis-shelved with a shoulder injury. Lewis can still throw overhand and played right field Thursday.
"Kaylie had an MRI today but we are not sure if she can pitch the rest of the year." Woods said. "She still has a good bat so we like to keep her in the lineup."
SA: 0-0-0-0-0-0-0- 0-8-3
WB-Sarah Weber, wp, (4IP, 2K, 0BB), Catie Metzgar (3IP, 4K, 1BB) and Cheyenne Miller, Bailey Byers.
SA-Clara Janofa, lp, (2IP, 1K, 3BB), Courtney Waters (4IP, 0K, 2BB), Clara Janofa (1IP, 0K, 0BB) and Raegan Meals.