Paige Parker is Oklahoma’s Keilani Ricketts lite
Paige Parker is trying to do what Keilani Ricketts once did, and that is pitch the Oklahoma Sooners softball team to a national championship.
Parker will be in the circle for the Sooners in Game 3 of the WCWS on Wednesday, hoping to win the school its third national title. The second came in 2013 when Ricketts was a senior. A two-time National Player of the Year and 2013 MOP at the world series, Ricketts went 4-0 with 39 strikeouts in 31 innings at the college world series. She also took Oklahoma to the WCWS in 2012, where they were runner-up to Alabama, and in 2011 — her sophomore season.
Parker is very much on a similar path.
As a freshman, she took Oklahoma to the super regionals where they lost to Alabama. In her sophomore season, she has led the country in wins and pitched nearly every single inning of the postseason (all but Game 2 against Auburn) and carried Oklahoma to a guaranteed top-two finish in the championship.
The two players are remarkably similar, too.
Ricketts was a left-handed pitcher, who stands at 6-foot-2. Parker is also left-handed, and she is tall as well at 5-foot-11. Both pitchers have large, sturdy frames that give them the base to withstand extreme workloads in the circle.
— Keilani Ricketts (@laniricketts10) June 8, 2016
For her career, Ricketts went 133-35 with a 1.26 ERA. She was 32-10 with a 1.24 ERA as a freshman, and 29-15 with a 1.48 ERA as a sophomore. Parker went 28-7 with a 1.65 ERA as a freshman and is 37-3 with a 1.65 ERA as a sophomore.
Not too shabby, right?
Now the one thing you could tell me is that the major difference between them is that Ricketts would have been an All-American strictly as a hitter, without even batting. After all, she clubbed 50 home runs and hit .339 with an OPS approaching 1.200 for her career. Well, as a freshman, Parker batted .394 with five doubles and nine home runs, posting an OPS of 1.142. That’s even better than Ricketts did as a freshman.
Parker has hardly batted this season because they don’t want to risk aggravating a knee injury for her, but she certainly showed a lot of promise as a freshman.
Parker may not be quite as dominant as Ricketts was a pitcher, and she may be somewhat inferior as a hitter. But she also is only a sophomore who has two more years to develop and reach those levels, especially if they let her bat again next season.
For now, she’s the closest thing Oklahoma has to Ricketts, and that may be good enough to win the school its second national title.