She is just a freshman, but Oklahoma pitcher and Truman High School graduate Paige Parker has wasted no time in making a big name for herself in the world of college softball.
She recently became just the third player in NCAA history to throw four perfect games in a single season and was recognized for her efforts with Big 12 pitcher of the year honors. She was also tabbed as the league’s co-freshman of the year.
Through 36 appearances, Parker has struck out 199 batters and walked 42. She leads the Big 12 with a 1.45 ERA and has held opponents to a league-low .170 batting average. Parker has also been getting it done on offense. She is batting .418 with nine home runs and 40 RBIs through 52 games.
“It has been a blast,” Parker said. “This season has been so much fun getting all these experiences and getting to play with my teammates, who are absolutely fantastic. I absolutely love getting these opportunities.”
Her next big opportunity starts Friday afternoon when she and the Sooners host Central Arkansas in the first round of NCAA regionals at 3 p.m. The 11th-seeded Sooners have a 19-1 mark at home and a 45-7 ledger overall.
“I’m excited to play in a playoff atmosphere, especially since we get to host our regional at home,” Parker said. “We will have our fans behind us and the support from them.”
In her latest perfect game, Parker struck out 12 of the 15 batters she faced and threw 45 strikes out of 64 pitches against Utah Valley on May 3. The other three outs came from force-outs as the fifth-ranked Sooners run-ruled Utah State 14-0 in five innings.
Her three previous perfect games came against Hawaii on Feb. 7, Missouri State on March 7 and East Carolina on March 14. She is already ranked second in program history for career no-hitters. The leader, Keilani Ricketts had seven in her career and six in a season.
The only other two players to throw four perfect games in a season are Louisiana-Lafayette’s Kyla Hall in 1994 and Boston University’s Audrey West in 1994. She is just the 16th player in NCAA history to have at least four no-hitters in a season.
“I mean, she struck out 12 of 15 hitters, so she’s just in a really fantastic place right now, especially as a freshman,” Oklahoma coach Patty Gasso said.
“Paige is just really starting to pinpoint things, and she’s able to call upon a pitch pretty much at any time and nail it. It’s been really fun to watch her development, and what she can do in the postseason is pretty exciting, as well.”
Parker credited her work with Oklahoma associate head coach Melyssa Lombardi on developing game plans as a big factor in what has helped her to her 24-5 record in 36 appearances. Parker has made 25 starts and pitched 18 complete games with three saves.
“We come up with a game plan before each game, and I have really been focusing on executing that game plan and really executing the pitches I need to at the right times,” Parker said.