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#pounditMonday, July 4, 2022

Kelsey Stevens starts for Oklahoma over Paige Parker

Kelsey Stevens

The Oklahoma Sooners stunned many people by announcing Kelsey Stevens would start in the circle in Game 2 of their WCWS championship against Auburn on Tuesday rather than Paige Parker.

It’s not that Stevens is a bad pitcher, but the surprise comes because Parker had been carrying the Sooners.

Parker had pitched every single inning of the postseason for Oklahoma, not losing any games. They entered Tuesday’s game having won 31 games in a row. Parker pitched them to victory in Game 1 of the Best of 3 against Auburn, but they decided to give the southpaw some rest instead.

Stevens is much different from Parker. She is a righty and does not throw quite as hard. Not only that, but her last appearance came on May 14 during the team’s regular season finale.

Stevens entered Tuesday’s game 9-4 with a 3.37 ERA. By contrast, Parker entered the WCWS with a 33-3 record and 1.55 ERA. However, Stevens, a transfer from Stanford, was dynamite for the Sooners in 2014 when she was the horse of the staff, going 38-9 with a 2.44 ERA, helping to lead the team back to the WCWS, so she definitely can beat top opponents.

Oklahoma is likely figuring that by winning the first game of the series on Monday, they have the luxury of giving Parker the day off on Tuesday so that she can be fresher for Game 3 if that becomes necessary. It’s a gamble, but one they decided was worthwhile.

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