Killingsworth goes from doubt to domination

Published 5:21 pm Friday, June 11, 2010

When the blackouts turned to all-out seizures, Courtney Killingsworth was scared.

Killingsworth was scared of what the problem might mean for her future, for sure, but also scared for a more pressing reason.

“I got really scared because I thought ball might get taken away from me,” Killingsworth said.

The doctor let Killingsworth play after all, though her last seizure occurred after practice had begun. The episodes affected Killingsworth’s pitching, but the rising senior was good enough to be named The Clanton Advertiser’s Softball Player of the Year.

Killingsworth led Maplesville to its second consecutive state tournament appearance, recording one perfect game, five one-hitters and two two-hitters. Killingsworth compiled a 20-9 record as a starter and struck out 153 batters in 171 1/3 innings pitched. She had a team-high .425 batting average, a .528 on-base percentage and two home runs—all despite starting the season under circumstances most high school players couldn’t imagine.

Killingsworth had blacked out a few times before, but her seizure during class in November revealed just how serious her condition was.

Killingsworth didn’t regain consciousness for about 25 minutes, and, when she did, she didn’t know where she was or who all those people were looking at her.

She was diagnosed with left temporal lobe epilepsy, but the seizures continued while doctors tried to get the dosage right on her medication.

Her last seizure occurred at Shady Grove Baptist Church, where the Rev. Kirk Smith asked the congregation to pray for the girl lying unconscious in the pew.

That’s been more than three months ago. Doctors are almost ready to let Killingworth drive again (her keys were taken away because of the possibility of an episode while behind the wheel, “which was really upsetting because I just got my license and got a car,” she said.)

Killingsworth is also looking forward to the next softball season. She has one more chance to leave her mark at Maplesville and impress college scouts.

To that end, she’s working on a screwball and a curveball to complement her already potent repertoire of a fastball (which, because of its movement, opponents swear is a curve), rise ball, drop ball and change-up, her best pitch because it’s about 12 miles an hour slower than the fastball.

“I try to be a leader for my teammates,” Killingsworth said. “When I step out on the field, I give 110 percent.

“I think we can get back [to the state tournament after losing several key players to graduation], but it’s going to take practice and dedication.”

After fearing she wouldn’t be able to play again, practice is something Killingsworth won’t mind at all.