Remembering a friend

Brittany Westerberg

Brittany Westerberg

The loss of Kevin Morsching, a relief pitcher for SDSU, is being heavily felt at SDSU and will continue to be throughout the year.

“No one is ever going to wear his number (16) again as long as I’m here,” head baseball coach Reggie Christiansen said.

The 21-year-old biology major from Rapid City fractured his skull in a skateboarding accident in Brookings on August 20. Police reports indicate that he was discovered by a passer-by and then airlifted to a hospital in Sioux Falls. At the hospital, he was placed in a drug-induced coma and underwent surgery to reduce swelling in his brain and remove a clot.

By Wednesday night, however, he had stopped responding to the drugs doctors were giving him and the swelling in his brain increased, causing brain damage.

On Saturday Kevin was declared brain dead, as a CAT scan revealed that his brain stem was almost completely damaged, but his family kept him on life support for another day because he was an organ donor.

His funeral was held August 31 in Rapid City.

“It hasn’t really set in yet,” said Kirby Morsching, Kevin’s younger brother, who also plays baseball for SDSU, on September 3. He said his family has been surrounded by friends and extended family members the entire time and is being well taken care of.

Tina Martin, Kevin’s girlfriend for the past year and a half, said that he would be missed more than words could say. “He fought until the end,” she said, “and now someone lucky will get his heart and lungs. … I cannot wait to see the person who gets his big heart.”

Kevin graduated from St. Thomas More High School in Rapid City in 2004. While in high school, Kevin pitched for the Post 22 American Legion Program. During SDSU’s 2007 season, he was one of the team’s top relievers, with a 5-1 record and a save in 15 appearances.

“He was always so intense,” Kirby said. “He’d always go out and do his job. He’d run out of the bullpen? and let everybody know that he’s the man. He’d push you and try to get everything out of you he could. He rubbed off on everybody he ever met? and as an older brother, he was always there to stand up for me.”

“He had an incredible drive and passion and enthusiasm for life,” Christiansen said. “He was very comfortable in his own skin? and showed up with a smile on his face every day. He brought a lot to the table? and was a very special person.”

“He was an infectious guy,” Jackrabbit first baseman Tyson Fisher said. “You just wanted to be around him. You couldn’t want more from a teammate.”

“He always wanted to be a closer,” Kirby said. Kevin received the chance to be a closing pitcher this summer when playing for the collegiate summer league Humboldt Crabs out in Arcata, Calif. He led the team in appearances with 19-no one else had more than 11-and was 3-1 with a 2.29 ERA.

“His life was like one big energy drink,” said Jackrabbit third baseman/outfielder Craig Perry, who also played for the Crabs this summer. According to Perry, Kevin was always full of energy and never wanted to sit still. The first thing Kevin asked when they got out to California after the 20-some hour drive was, “Where can we go rock climbing?”

“He never took a day off,” fellow Jackrabbit pitcher Matt Baerlocher said. “He was always extreme, always all-out. He was the one guy I’ve met who didn’t relax.” Baerlocher nicknamed Kevin “the wild man” last year, and the name stuck. “It was the perfect way to describe him,” he said.

“He was one of the most athletically gifted guys,” Fisher said, “but he couldn’t touch the net on a basketball court. He had no vertical jump.”

“He saw life differently than most,” Martin said, “as he gave 110 percent in everything he did, whether that be in school, playing baseball or weightlifting, or just being a good friend, son, brother or boyfriend. He was the most amazing person I have ever met in my entire life. He did more in his 21 years than some may do in their whole lifetime. He has made me a better person today, and I know I will live the rest of my life for and through him.”

Friends of the Morsching family have set up the Kevin Morsching Memorial Account at the Highmark Federal Credit Union, 725 5th St., Rapid City, SD 57701. The money will go toward a memorial scholarship at St. Thomas More.

#1.882068:1704810003.jpg:Morsching.el.jpg::Eric Landwehr/University Relations