Dream Job | Sammy Marshall

August 2017 View more

Sammy Marshall is one of the best softball players in the world, but she began her athletic career as a baseball player.

The Naperville native played in the Naperville Little League for four seasons before switching to softball when she was twelve. That’s also when she began following the Chicago Bandits, the local pro softball team she now plays for.

“It is every athlete’s dream to one day be able to put a professional jersey on and represent your city,” Marshall says. “Growing up in Naperville, I watched the Bandits from when I was twelve years old, so not only is it an honor to wear the Bandits jersey, but it’s a dream come true.”

Marshall, who turned twenty-four in July, was an All-State softball player at Naperville North High School before starring at Western Illinois University. The speedy outfielder was a four-time All-Summit League selection for the Leathernecks and graduated with school career records for stolen bases (134), runs scored (168) and batting average (.456).

Marshall was drafted eighteenth overall by the Bandits in 2015, fulfilling a dream she only recently even dared to imagine. “It honestly didn’t become a thought in my mind until senior year of college,” Marshall says. “Going to a smaller mid-major college, you don’t get all of the hoopla that all the Big Ten, SEC and Pac 10 schools get. So I was just doing my job every day to the best of my ability, and luckily one of the coaches was watching a tournament in the (Rosemont) dome and saw me play and that’s when they became interested.”

Despite not attending a big-name college, Marshall is the first Naperville product to play in the National Pro Fastpitch (NPF), the six-team league the Bandits play in. “I’ve had so many coaches and people in my corner helping me throughout my career that to name them all, your article would be 300 pages long,” Marshall says. “I wish I could give all of them their due, because they deserve it. Naperville is a great softball community. I [faced] some of the best softball players around. It helped me prepare myself for the next level.”

Marshall is thriving in the professional league. She is the starting center fielder for the Bandits, who are the two-time defending NPF champions. Last year she batted .254 and led the league with sixteen stolen bases in eighteen attempts.

“I want to play until I’m sixty-five, but whether my legs keep up with me or not is another story,” Marshall laughs. “I hopefully have a nice long career ahead of me, but I’d like to play for as long as I physically can.”

All NPF players are required to have college degrees and work in the off-season. Marshall, an assistant coach at
St. Leo College in Florida, aspires to coach full-time after her playing career is over. She also wants to help the NPF expand and grow the sport in general.

“Some of the best talent in the whole world is on this field right now and people don’t know it exists, so we need to do a better job of marketing ourselves,” Marshall says. “Everyone thinks that after college the only thing you have left is Team USA. That’s not the case.”

Marshall is thankful for being able to play in front of her parents, Kathy and David, who are Bandits season ticket holders. “Playing for the team I grew up watching is literally my dream come true,” Marshall says. “Every day I get to put this [uniform] on I am unbelievably blessed that I get to do it.”

Play Ball
The Chicago Bandits play their home games at Rosemont Stadium, located at 27 Jennie Finch Way in Rosemont. The regular season, which began June 1, ends August 13. The Bandits have nine home games remaining, beginning with a four-game series starting July 30 against Beijing. For ticket information call 877.722.6348 or visit chicagobandits.com.