Who is the only person who can slow down Sammy Marshall?
The answer, it seems, is Sammy Marshall.
This spring pitchers and catchers around the NCAA found out what those in DuPage County already knew: that you better keep Marshall off the bases if you know what's good for you.
The ex-Naperville North star stole an NCAA-leading 45 stolen bases in Western Illinois' first 38 games. She wasn't caught once. Unfortunately Marshall's freshman season was cut short April 7 when she broke her fibula sliding into third base against North Dakota State.
Five weeks removed from the injury, Marshall seems to have taken it in stride.
She gets her cast off next Friday and hopes to be back to 100 percent by the fall.
"This season, it was an amazing experience. I wouldn't take anything back," said Marshall, driving home from Macomb on Thursday afternoon for summer break. "You have to roll with the punches. Getting hurt, it made me a better teammate."
At the time of her injury, Marshall was leading the NCAA in total steals and in average steals per game by a wide margin, and she ranked eighth in the NCAA with a Summit League-leading 55 hits. Despite missing Western Illinois' last 13 games, Marshall's 45 steals were still tied for tops in Division I. This week she was named Summit League all-conference.
Typically understated, Marshall didn't gloat in her accomplishments. When told the NCAA all-time record is 80 steals, Marshall replied "wow, that girl must have been fast."
Trust me, you wouldn't want to race Marshall.
"I always knew speed was one of my better assets," Marshall said. "I just did the fundamentals, got good jumps and luckily I had a good start to the season. I know I'm not the only fast girl, or the fastest. To be toward the top, or at the top, that's awesome."
Marshall's 45 steals set a Western Illinois program record and Summit League record for steals. She's used to rewriting record books. At Naperville North Marshall set single-season records for hits (65), batting average (.586) and stolen bases (49) as a junior. Her 145 steals are a Huskies record, 15th all-time in the IHSA.
The numbers don't tell the story, but Marshall said it did take time to adjust to college pitching.
"They didn't necessarily get faster from travel ball, but the spin and movement was a lot tighter," Marshall said. "The game itself moved at a higher pace. There wasn't a lot of room for mistakes."
Marshall isn't the only area alum tearing it up on the softball field this spring. Paige Wilson, an All-Area shortstop at Wheaton North, on Monday was named SEC Freshman of the Week at Georgia. It is the fourth time this season that Wilson has earned the honor. On the season Wilson is hitting .327 with 9 doubles, 9 homers and 43 runs batted in. Downers Grove South graduate Brooke Andresen, now at Loyola, on Wednesday was named First Team all-Horizon League for the third straight year. She is hitting .325 with 5 homers and 22 RBI and had a streak this season where she reached base in 21 straight games. Former West Chicago star Mary Connolly on Wednesday was named third-team all-Big East for DePaul after batting .313 in league competition with 2 homers and 12 RBI.