SE: Marshall Makes Most out of Tough Situation

This holiday season, Evan Marshall is simply happy to be alive. 

The Arizona Diamondbacks’ right-handed pitcher, who pitched at K-State from 2009-11, had his life changed drastically on August 3, when he was hit in the head with a line drive while pitching for the franchise’s Triple-A team, the Reno Aces, in El Paso, Texas. 

Following being struck, Marshall was helped off the field and hurried to UTEP’s University Medical Center. He wasn’t promised to make it through the night. 

“I remember everything about it, about getting hit,” Marshall said during a recent visit back to Manhattan. “I saw the ball all the way to me; I tried to get out of the way. At 105 miles per hour or greater, it’s either going to hit your or it’s not. There’s nowhere to go. It wasn’t the first time I’ve been hit, but it was the first time I was hit in the skull.”

Marshall motioned to the scar on the right side of his head; a reminder that he survived. Every moment following his injury was critical. Once he arrived at the hospital, he was quickly rushed into surgery to reduce the swelling in his brain. 

While he was in surgery, the Diamondbacks flew Marshall’s wife, Allie, and their dog, Butters, to El Paso. They arrived just in time for Marshall to come out of surgery. 

“They couldn’t get me to wake up – I was slipping into a coma – so the doctors thought a familiar voice would be good,” Marshall explained. “They brought in my wife, she started talking to me and my eyes started to twitch a little bit. But it was our dog, he was in her arms, who woke me up. When he caught wind of me, he took his paw and just hit me right on the chest. My eyes snapped right open.”

Marshall spent one week in the hospital in El Paso before he was transferred to the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, Arizona, to continue his rehab.

He said Butters, an 18-month-old Cavachon (a mix between a Bichon Frise and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel), was there for everything. 

“There was nowhere we could take our dog so he was right there with us,” Marshall said. “He was on the bed with me and that was comforting, but more than anything they involved him in my rehab process. They had me pick him up with my left arm, they had me take him for walks up and down the hallway.”

Marshall’s rehab began shortly after his surgery. It started with simply talking, reading and doing math problems to regain his cognitive skills before shifting focus to his physical recovery. 

With Allie and Butters by his side, Marshall’s recovery went quickly. In just two weeks he was working out. By week three, he was back in the Diamondbacks’ training facility visiting the team. He felt strong enough to pitch again for the Aces at the end of September, but Major League Baseball recommended he wait until the 2016 season. 

“I was hit on the right side of my head, so the left side of my body was slow and unresponsive,” said Marshall. “Rehab started right away. It started with just squeezing a stress ball in my left hand. The strength on my left side wasn’t good, my balance wasn’t good, but that’s what the therapy was all about. I regained it all back pretty quickly.”

During his weeks of rehab, Marshall realized he was one of the lucky ones. It was because of the impact his own dog had on his recovery that Marshall became aware of and began working with the Phoenix Children’s Hospital Paws Can Heal program. 

“I believed in it before, but since I’ve experienced it, it’s something I believe in even more,” Marshall said about Paws Can Heal. “It’s a great charity for a great cause. It’s something really positive that I can spin off of this horrible experience. I’m one of the lucky people that can do that.”

Marshall said, along with his work with Paws Can Heal, he has also spent time getting to know people who are going through similar circumstances.  

“Going to therapy is really humbling because there are people with the exact same injury that I had, multiple skull fractures and an arterial bleed, and some of them couldn’t walk any more, were paralyzed or couldn’t remember anything about their lives,” Marshall explained. “I got lucky because my progress was so fast and I healed really quickly, so I’ve had the opportunity to go back in and talk to some people who may be losing hope.”

It has now been nearly five months since Marshall’s injury. After a difficult fall, he’s fully recovered and ready to get back on the mound. 

“There are times in the middle of the season where you’re playing baseball every day, you get home and there’s a game on TV, you probably don’t want to watch it because you see enough baseball as it is,” laughed Marshall. “But when I was in the hospital, I couldn’t get enough baseball. I missed being apart of it. Some of the best days I’ve had since August have been the days I’ve gone to the field and was a part of everything again.”

Marshall credits the Arizona Diamondbacks and his therapist for getting him back up and running. He said he’s been working non-stop to get back into shape so he will be ready to go when Spring Training rolls around next year. 

“I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in,” Marshall said with a smile. “It’s been a long process that started with learning how to walk and, ultimately, finished with me throwing off the mound again.”

During his three years at K-State, Evan Marshall registered a 3.55 ERA in 85 career appearances – second best in school history. In 2011, his junior season, he had a 1.62 ERA and 55 strikeouts in 30 games and helped K-State to its third consecutive NCAA Regional Tournament appearance. Following his Wildcat baseball career, Marshall was drafted in the fourth round of the 2011 MLB Draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks. He made his MLB debut in 2014.

 

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