As he waited to die, Marshall Kasowski's life didn't flash before his eyes.
That happens in movies. This was real. As he sat in his car, waiting for the t-boning that might kill him, he noticed the line of trees in view through his windshield. He looked at the moon. And he felt regret.
Kasowski was on his way to a friend's house to hang out, maybe drink a few beers and waste some time.
That's when his car was hit from behind by a car going far over the speed limit. The impact knocked his car into and then through the grassy median dividing the highway. By the time the car stopped sliding, he was perpendicular to the traffic on the other side of the freeway with the headlights of oncoming cars shining through his window.
So he looked at the moon, the trees and the cool night. And then he tried to relax as much as he could, as he waited for the impact of the traffic.
A year and a half later, Kasowski is still here. Since then he's been named the Northwoods League pitcher of the year in the summer wood bat league. At Division II West Texas A&M, he's set a school and conference record for strikeouts in a season. His 9-5, 2.22 season with 50 hits allowed, 50 walks and 165 strikeouts in 93.1 innings is one of the best years the school has ever seen.
And as he sees it, his success really began the minute he stumbled out of his wrecked car. His car was struck as it sat astride oncoming traffic, but a tractor trailer that could have made it much worse missed him by a narrow margin, and when it all ended, he was still conscious and able to get out of the car.
The bruises and head injury took some time to heal and eventually he needed surgery to repair his injured gall bladder, but all in all, Kasowski made a pretty remarkable recovery from the frightening wreck. He was happy to be alive, but he also saw it as a chance to take life more seriously than he had before the accident.
The regrets he felt in that pre-impact moment stemmed from him thinking that he didn't live life as intensely as he should. He'd wasted his time. He'd pitched in college but he hadn't focused on pitching enough to say that he'd gotten the most out of his ability.
"It was the maturing moment of my life. I thought that was my last breath. It was very humbling and an eye-opening experience," Kasowski said.
Since the accident, Kasowski has become a voracious reader. He's become a weight room fanatic, working on getting stronger and improving as a pitcher. He's posted motivational videos. Nowadays, he no longer feels like someone who was letting his chance slip away.
"I don't look at it as something that set me back," he said. "I'm a lot more mature. I work a lot smarter on and off the field. It matured me as a person. It made me appreciate the small things in life. I don't take success for granted."
As a redshirt junior, Kasowski could return to West Texas A&M for his 2018 season, but he heard his named called by the Dodgers in the 13th round as a funky righthander with a big fastball and a knack for missing bats.
Kasowski's delivery isn't conventional. He himself describes it as funky. Kasowski didn't make his high school team until his senior year, so the delivery is somewhat self-taught.
He comes from high over the top with some effort, but the funk comes with an advantage–his 91-94 mph fastball (it'll touch 96 at its best) is hard to pick up. As some scouts describe it, Kasowski is an ear-flipper with the ball hidden behind him until late in his delivery.
"I don't know how I got to that point. I know I'm coming through my ear. I've been blessed with a funky motion," Kasowski said.
That deception, the stuff on his above-average fastball and an at times tight curveball gives Kasowski the stuff to potentially succeed in pro ball. He hopes he gets the chance. And he can promise any team that signs him that if he's given the opportunity, he won't squander his chance.
"I don't take anything for granted. I enjoy every moment I'm able to be here. I really do. When it's time to be serious, be serious. You never know what your last breath will be," Kasowski said.