West Hancock’s Woodworth ready to have hand in helping Illinois girls win Muddy River Showcase


West Hancock's Lillie Woodworth recovered in time from a right hand injury suffered playing softball April 5 to play in this Saturday's Muddy River Showcase at John Wood Community College's Student Activity Center. | Shane Hulsey photo

QUINCY — Lillie Woodworth’s hand has healed, and she’s ready to go.

That’s not good news for the Missouri all-stars.

Two months after suffering a pair of broken bones in her right hand playing softball, the West Hancock all-state basketball player is back playing in open gyms at her future college home — Lincoln Land Community College in Springfield — and will get to represent Illinois during Saturday’s Muddy River Showcase at John Wood Community College’s Student Activity Center.

“I’m just excited to play in a real game again,” Woodworth said. “I haven’t played in forever.”

On April 5, in the bottom of the fourth inning of the Titans’ game against Midwest Central, Woodworth got caught in a rundown between third and home. As Woodworth dove back into third base, Raiders third baseman Abby Markle fell on Woodworth’s hand.

“I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh, this is not good.’ I’ve broken so many bones I can tell when it’s not good,” Woodworth said. “I knew it wasn’t good but I was like, ‘My legs are fine. I’ll still run.’”

Woodworth stayed in the game and scored the go-ahead run two batters later, but she knew she couldn’t play any longer.

“I got to the dugout and (Titans coach Gena Dewald) was like, ‘Are you good?’” Woodworth said. “I was like ‘No, I’ve got to go to the ER right now,.'” 

To the emergency room she went, and X-rays revealed Woodworth had broken the bones below her middle and ring fingers. This sidelined her for the rest of the softball season, something she had debated not even playing in the first place.

“I didn’t really want to play softball this season anyway because I always end up getting hurt,” Woodworth said.

She suffered a broken ankle while running down a fly ball during a game with her traveling team her freshman year and a broken nose as a sophomore while catching a bullpen session at practice.

“Something probably happened last year, too,” she joked. “I have a terrible memory.”

Still, she couldn’t walk away without one more go-around.

“I’m super competitive, and I feel like I would have regretted it,” Woodworth said. “We also had only one other senior (Jordyn Climer). She’s one of my closer friends and I felt bad leaving her, so I wanted to play for her. I also just can’t quit something. I have to keep going.”

Woodworth resumed her basketball training shortly therafter, but being right-handed, she had to drastically adjust it.

“I was shooting with my left hand as much as I could,” said Woodworth, who averaged 17.2 points and 5.5 rebounds per game last winter and was among the area’s top 3-point shooters with 81 made treys. “I just had a brace the entire time and holding my hand up like this doing everything.”

After three weeks of X-rays, Woodworth was clinically cleared to use the hand, allowing her to remove the splint and be more active.

“The doctor said that I didn’t have to wear the splint all the time anymore, so I just stopped wearing it completely and started moving on my own,” Woodworth said. “They mentioned reaching out to a physical therapist and having them contact us, but they never ended up contacting us, so I was basically doing everything on my own.”

Woodworth said her hand has improved dramatically over the last two weeks, though she did have a recent scare.

“Last week, I tweaked it again at my open gym in Springfield, but I had open gym again (Monday), and it felt good,” Woodworth said. “It doesn’t hurt at all anymore.”

Woodworth hopes it stays that way. Even though she is committed to Lincoln Land, she has had her sights set on enjoying one last high school hurrah.

“I’m glad I healed fast because I was really looking forward to being a part of this game,” Woodworth said. “I’ve known these girls for so long, and I want to do as much high school stuff as I can while I still have the time. I just wanted to be a part of it.”

Scratching that competitive itch is a plus, too.

Tickets for the Muddy River Showcase are $10
with all seats general admission and all sales at the door.

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