Diamond 9: Glendale, William Jewell standout Kristen Marshall

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She was basically raised around bats, gloves and base lines before emerging as a standout softball player – first at Glendale High School and then at William Jewell College, where her name is splashed all over the Top 10 of many offensive categories.

Now Kristen Marshall is being remembered by the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame. The Hall is recognizing the former hitter’s career with a Diamond 9 award during its upcoming Baseball Luncheon presented by the Ozarks Coca-Cola/Dr Pepper Bottling Company.

The luncheon is at 11 a.m. May 18 at University Plaza Convention Center in Springfield. (For tickets, call 417-889-3100).

“I kind of grew up around the game,” Marshall said. “I spent a lot of my younger days watching my dad play at Meador Park, and my brother played baseball nonstop from a young age, so I guess I came by it at least a little bit naturally.”

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Marshall’s award will come on a day when the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame names former Missouri State University athletic director Bill Rowe a Missouri Sports Legend. The Hall of Fame also will induct former St. Louis Cardinals closer Jason Isringhausen, Kansas City Royals and Kansas City Chiefs groundskeeper George Toma and Mansfield High School baseball coach Doug Jones.

Marshall is among the nine former baseball and softball players being recognized for the third annual Diamond 9 award, given for contributions to their sports.

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A 2005 Glendale High School graduate, Marshall was first team All-State in 2004 and News-Leader All-Ozarks in 2002. Additionally, she was first team for both All-District and All-Ozark Conference as an outfielder and pitcher in different seasons. Marshall also hit.477 as a junior at Glendale, where in 2002 she had nine hits in nine consecutive at-bats – which remains tied for fourth-best in state history.

At William Jewell, Marshall in 2009 led all divisions across the country, from NCAA down through NAIA, in fielding percentage (.998) among players with 400-plus chances. Her name appears 20 times in the Top 10 of many of the program’s offensive categories.

This from a player who shifted her attention away from volleyball before her sophomore year at Glendale. That team finished 25-4, reaching the state quarterfinals. Many of the girls played on the same summer team, the Southside Stunners, and won several tournaments, including an American Softball Association regional.

“That was a really fun year and a really special team,” Marshall said of the Glendale Lady Falcons. “There were some really good players, and eight of us went on to play in college, which is neat. That team really established my love for the game.”

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What some folks might not have known is that Marshall’s childhood was largely influenced by baseball.

“I loved watching my brother (Brett) play, and he was really supportive of me, too,” said Marshall, who went on to graduate school at Bastyr University and is now a dietician nutritionist in Springfield. “There is no doubt that he is a far better athlete than I am. And I learned a lot from him, or my dad (Lonnie) teaching me by using him as an example.

“I didn’t always have the best response to constructive criticism,” Marshall said with a smile, “but I think we all find it kind of funny now.”

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Fortunately for her, Dustin Combs was her coach at both Glendale and William Jewell.

“He invested a lot of time and energy in me, and he was always, always encouraging me and pushing me to be better,” said Marshall. “I feel really lucky to have played for him all those years. He’s a great mentor on and off the field.”

At William Jewell, Marshall also was All-Heart of America Athletic Conference in 2006 and 2009.

Career-wise at William Jewell, Marshall is third in both starts (199) and singles (134), fifth in both hits (177) and stolen bases (26) and sixth in doubles (32). She holds single-season records for games played (60), starts (60), putouts (464 in 2008) and double plays (19 in 2009).

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Marshall also ranks in the Top 10 in program history in nine single-season categories: batting average (.355 in 2006), hits (55 in 2008), singles (44 in 2008), walks (23 in 2008), stolen bases (13 in 2009), on-base percentage (.423 in 2006) and appears twice in fielding percentage and three times in putouts.

“The Jewell community is wonderful, and I’m really proud of both my academic experience and athletic experience,” Marshall said. “It feels really good to be a part of something that has such a commitment to excellence in every aspect.”

The Diamond 9s this year are Marin Whorton Cooney (Ozark High School/Missouri Southern), Sophia Alexander Denning (Strafford High School/Drury), Bob Detherage (Hillcrest High School/Kansas City Royals), Bill Helfrecht (Glendale High School/Missouri State), Brent Maggard (Sparta High School/Crowder/Southern Arkansas), Kristen Marshall (Glendale High School/William Jewell), Troy McMain (Willard High School), Christian Overstreet (Nixa High School/Missouri State) and Tom Wilson (Bolivar High School/Detroit Tigers).

An individual tickets is $40, while a head table ticket is $100. A table of eight is $400 and includes associate sponsor recognition in the printed program as well as an autographed print. Call the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame at 417-889-3100.