Scholar-Athlete Spotlight: Western Illinois

Western Illinois' Dan Dispensa, Ashley Luke and Sammy Marshall
Western Illinois' Dan Dispensa, Ashley Luke and Sammy Marshall

Each month, The Summit League will feature outstanding student-athlete performances from a selected institution as recognized by its Faculty Athletic Representative. The May installment of The Summit League Scholar-Athlete Spotlight features three student-athletes from Western Illinois.

Dan Dispensa, Baseball
Eligibility Year/Hometown: Sr./Chicago, Ill.
Major: Law Enforcement and Justice Administration
GPA:  3.044

Dan Dispensa began his Western Illinois career playing both football and baseball. As a true freshman he played in 10 games, missing only the season-finale. He recorded five tackles that season before deciding to concentrate solely on baseball. During his rookie year he batted .299 in 41 games played and led the squad in triples before suffering a season-ending injury. He started 54 games during his sophomore year batting .281 as the Leathernecks qualified for The Summit League Tournament for the first time in three years. His breakout year came during the 2012 campaign when he earned Second Team All-Summit League honors. Dispensa, who was named ‘Player of the Week’ following the opening weekend at Georgia State, broke into the career ‘Top 10’ in hits that season. As a senior, Dispensa has jumped all the way to third all-time with 201 hits. This season he also put his name in the career record books in: runs scored (115-T6th), triples (12 -T3rd), total bases (265-T7th), walks (78-10th) and games played (179-5th). He currently leads The Summit League with four triples (18th nationally in per game, 29th in total triples), ranks second with three home runs and fourth with 19 runs scored. Dispensa owns a 3.044 GPA majoring in Law Enforcement Justice Administration. A three-year selection as Summit League Winter/Spring Academic All-League, he is scheduled to graduate this spring. 

Ashley Luke, Women’s Basketball
Eligibility Year/Hometown: So./Oak Creek, Wis.
Major: Biology
GPA: 4.00

When Ashley Luke joined the Leatherneck women’s basketball team last summer, it was still uncertain whether or not she would be eligible to compete right away. After leaving Green Bay following the coaching change, Luke joined Western. It was days until the exhibition opener when head coach JD Gravina found out the good news. Luke made an immediate impact. She finished the year ranked second on the team scoring 10.6 points per game while leading the squad in rebounds (7.2) and blocked shots (29). Luke saved her best basketball until the final weeks of the season – leading WIU in Summit League play with 12.9 points and 8.0 rebounds while shooting just under 50 percent from the field. She recorded a team-leading seven double-doubles (six coming against Summit League teams), including a career-high 24 points with 10 boards in the heartbreaking double-overtime loss in The Summit League Tournament quarterfinals. Luke not only was voted to The Summit League All-Newcomer team, she became the third consecutive Leatherneck named ‘Newcomer of the Year’. She also was voted Second Team All-Summit League as her 48.8 percent field goal shooting was third in the league and best mark by any freshman. Luke owns a 4.0 GPA majoring in Biology. 

Sammy Marshall, Softball
Eligibility Year/Hometown: So./Naperville, Ill.
Major: Exercise Science
GPA:  3.53

Sammy Marshall has already etched her name in The Summit League and Western Illinois softball record books in her young collegiate career. In her freshman campaign, she was crowned the NCAA Stolen Base Champion, set a league and school single game steals record with a perfect 45-for-45 effort on the base paths and led the league with a .420 batting average. She garnered Summit League Player of the Week honors on three occasions and was a First Team All-Summit League selection. As a sophomore, Marshall has continued to excel on the field. The shortstop anchors the defense and currently leads the nation in batting average (.500) and stolen bases per game (0.96). She ranks second nationally in triples per game (0.18), ninth in on-base percentage (.567) and 10th in triples (5). Her career total 72 stolen bases is just two shy of tying the Western Illinois career steals record of 74 currently held by Stef Ryan (1991-94). After recording just three extra base hits as a freshman, Marshall has expanded her offensive abilities in 2013 tallying four doubles, five triples and one home run. She most recently received Summit League Player of the Week recognition on March 22 after posting a .500 batting average, .900 slugging percentage and .545 on-base percentage in a six game stretch. Marshall, a 2012 Winter/Spring Academic All-Summit League selection, is pursuing a degree in Exercise Science and holds a cumulative grade point average of 3.532.