Tahlequah Daily Press

May 22, 2014

Parsons, Sooners ready for Super Regional


— Callie Parsons’ first experience in the Women’s College World Series was a short one. In the Sooners’ 2012 trip to the series, she served mainly as a pinch runner as the Sooners came one win short of the national title.

A year ago it was a very different story. Parsons moved into a starting role midway through the year and was vital to the Sooners’ success in the series, including a huge triple in the final inning of a marathon contest in the first championship game. Still, that play was quickly overshadowed by Lauren Chamberlain’s game-ending home run.

It’s been much the same thing season. Oklahoma is a team full of big names and All-Americans. Sluggers Chamberlain and Shelby Pendley or ace Kelsey Stevens draw most of the headlines and attention around the program as the seventh-seeded Sooners head into the Super Regional this weekend.

But quietly it’s been Parsons who has provided the steady presence that has helped to key the Sooners’ run to 30 wins in 32 games. And it was Parsons who started a seventh-inning rally against Texas A&M in the regional final, a single that in Parsons’ typical quiet fashion was overshadowed by the Aggie error and heads-up baserunning play by Destinee Martinez that gave the Sooners the walk-off victory.

But there was at least one person who noticed. 

“Callie Parsons was the catalyst of that inning,” coach Patty Gasso said after the game. “She made all that happen.”

In a lineup that has shifted time and again as the Sooners (48-10) have dealt with injuries to several starters, Parsons has been a constant at the bottom of the lineup since coming on in the past month. In last year’s title run the bottom of the lineup was key to setting the table for the Sooners’ big hitters, and it’s a formula that OU has returned to as the Sooners round into postseason form.

But as the 7-9 hitters led by Parsons have begun to make more of an impact, even OU’s opponents have begun to take notice.

“I thought really the bottom of the order made the difference for them,” Texas A&M coach Jo Evans said after the regional final. “I felt like they had quality at-bats. They just really made solid contact, made adjustments and hit our mistakes. When we made a mistake, they hit it hard, so it’s a potent offense, certainly. They have a way of stringing some hits together, and a lot of times a big hit, a big home run, and it speeds the game up. They do a really nice job with that.”

Of course, all the tablesetting wouldn’t matter much if not for the bats at the beginning of the lineup to take advantage of them. The return of Chamberlain to the lineup after an extended absence due to a back injury and then a partially-torn PCL has re-energized an already-potent offense and paid off the work the bottom of the lineup has put in. 

“Shout out to the bottom of our lineup because that was crucial for us last year and it’s proving again this year in postseason that it’s a team effort and that all the hits that we can get help,” Chamberlain said after Sunday’s game. “I think the bottom of the lineup turning over to the top was huge for us.”