Media Information Director
DPS Office of Athletics
Renaissance High’s Shivonne Marshall is hitting the ball again after she missed a season for not hitting the books.
With a 1.000 batting average (11-for-11) through the softball schedule’s first three games, Marshall, a 5-4 senior, has been named the Detroit Public School League Proud Strong Learner of Week.
“She’s probably the fastest player on the team,’’ Renaissance coach Garrard Taylor said. “Her speed and her hitting give us a piece of arsenal that we didn’t have last year.”
As the Lady Phoenix’s leadoff hitter and captain, Marshall is playing like she’s trying to make up for lost time. She was forced to sit out last season after becoming academically ineligible, a status that even now she has a difficult time explaining how she let it happen.
“My grades had slipped tremendously and I couldn’t believe it,” Marshall said. “It wasn’t even my normal. I’m used to getting 3.0s, 3.1s and 3.2s, but my grade point average slipped to a 2.1. I had gotten unfocused and I was so hurt.”
Although Renaissance managed to win its eighth consecutive PSL softball crown without her, Marshall said she was hurt not only because she couldn’t play but because she let people down.
“I wasn’t a part of it and I should have been,’’ she said. “I’m the leadoff hitter and I wasn’t there. I could have been the captain last year if I had been there because I play a very active role on the team. At first, I figured that if I still went to practice that they would let me play. But that wasn’t the case.”
Instead of wallowing in her mistake, Marshall did something to correct it. “I took the initiative to get more tutoring in the classes that I needed. I talked to my teachers and got an understanding of what was required. I took the time to get my studies together so I could pull my grades back up and be able to play again. It’s great now because this is my senior year and, of all my grades, I have nothing lower than a 3.5.”
Marshall began to flourish at the top of Renaissance’s lineup in the 10th grade after her conversion from a right-handed hitter to a left-handed slap hitter.
“It’s made a big difference,’’ she said. “When I batted right-handed, I had problems with dipping and dropping my shoulder. By converting me to a left-hander, I re-learned how to hit and it’s helped me get on base almost every time,. I either bunt, slap or sometimes I hit (the ball hard). I’ve been able to do all three and take advantage of my speed.”
Defensively, Marshall prefers to play third base but has been used in either left or right to fill the team’s need for outfield help.
Having regained her academic standing, Marshall has been accepted by a number of colleges, and says she plans to study and play softball at Alcorn State University.
“I see myself becoming a cognitive psychologist and working with the brain,” she said. “I want to study how people think with their decision-making.”
Speaking from experience, she urges other student-athletes to make the right decision with regard to putting academics first.
“I would just say to stay focused, that’s all you can do,’’ she said. “I know people always say that, but it’s true. You can’t do anything less than stay focused. Otherwise, you will end up not being able to play and not only letting your team down but you will let your parents down.
“When I became ineligible, I was so hurt by how disappointed my parents were with me. That made me know I had to straighten up. I came out of it because I knew I wanted to graduate and go to college. If you’re good at something, go for it and don’t let anybody discourage you from your dreams.”
The Detroit Public School League Proud Strong Learner of the Week award is representative of the league’s top boys and girls athletes. The award is presented by the DPS Office of Athletics and sponsored for the third year in a row by Detroit-area McDonald’s owner-operators