HOUSTON, Minn. -- Bailey Proudfoot doesn’t remember the February morning when her car careened on an icy road and collided with another vehicle. She doesn’t remember the first week following the accident, which she spent in a LaCrosse, Wis., hospital.
But ask the Houston High School senior about her injuries and the list comes in a hurry. “My elbow, my jaw, my nose, my eye, my foot, my ankle, my femur,” she said Monday. “And my fibula, because the emergency brake went through my shin.”
After eight broken bones (including her throwing arm), multiple surgeries, weeks of therapy and rehabilitation, Monday was a special day for Bailey. Eleven weeks to the day after the accident, she returned to the softball field as the Houston Hurricanes defeated the Mabel-Canton Cougars 10-0 in a Southeast Conference game.
“She is hands down the toughest kid I have ever met,” Houston athletic director Casey Indra said.
Playing with a metal rod in her left femur and determination in her heart, Bailey hit a sharp liner to right field in her first at-bat. She was thrown out at first base but moved runners to second and third. She later walked twice, replaced by pinch runner Becca Lee.
“You ought to be smiling from ear to ear,” a very happy Houston coach Arlin “Pete” Peterson hollered from the third base coaching box as Bailey stepped in to hit for the first time this season. As she returned to the bench after the play, her teammates and hometown fans gave her a big round of applause.
Bailey, who normally plays catcher, put on shin guards and helped pitcher Abbey Loken warm up but played left field Monday. Her sister Becca, a junior, took over behind the plate as Loken struck out 11 and gave up two hits. Just having Bailey back with the team and in the game was reason enough to rejoice.
“It was super-meaningful,” said Peterson. “It was her dream to come back. When she got in that car accident, the ambulance people told me the first thing she said at the accident scene was, ‘I gotta get to school, I gotta catch for Abbey.’ And the first thing she said coming out of surgery the first time was, ‘Can I play softball?’ So this was a thrill for her to be out here.”
For anyone who saw Bailey’s car – or photos of the damage – it’s remarkable that she is alive, much less walking or running or playing softball. The dashboard and steering column were rammed into the driver’s seat and she was pinned there until emergency personnel freed her. The accident occurred four miles from the Proudfoot home.
“That’s the phone call you never, ever want to get in your entire lifetime,” said Bailey’s mom, Kim. “It was scary. Bringing her home in a wheelchair was hard. But I guess for me, I knew she’d play, I really did. She’s a fighter. When you have people telling you, ‘You can’t … you can’t … you can’t;’ she’s always been a fighter.”
Bailey’s main goal was to walk at the prom. That event was held two weeks ago, and walk she did, as well as dance. And now that she’s back on the softball field, life couldn’t get much better.
“This is awesome,” she said. “It feels normal and not like I’m in the hospital being babied and stuff. It feels great to be with everybody.”
Bailey said she is grateful to be alive. She spent 15 days in the hospital and stayed home for another week and a half before returning to school. She didn’t spend a single day on crutches, which is a testament to her determination. And her final season of high school softball was a good pretty strong factor, as well.
“It was good to be out there again,” she said. “I kind of figured that I wouldn’t be able to (play again) but I wanted to, so I worked hard. I went to therapy and they gave me a bunch of exercises, and I did those.”
Her parents, Kim and Bruce, weren’t sure how quickly Bailey would be back to normal.
“Originally, when she was in the hospital we were thinking she might not even walk for graduation,” Kim said. “She might have to wheel down to get her diploma.”
There will be no worries about that when the Houston High class of 2013 graduates on May 31.
In the meantime, the softball season will continue. The Hurricanes, who have a record of 9-2 and are ranked 10th in the state in Class 1A, will begin Section 1 postseason play next week.
“This is what she lives for,” Kim said of her daughter.
She sure does. And she sure did.
--To see a photo gallery (plus video) from Monday’s softball game between Houston and Mabel-Canton, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.
BY THE NUMBERS
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