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OU Softball: Parker Named Freshman Of The Year

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Oklahoma pitcher Paige Parker has been named the NFCA Freshman of the Year, the National Fastpitch Coaches Association announced Tuesday night at the NCAA Championship Banquet in Oklahoma City.

"It's truly an honor and I couldn't do it without my teammates, my coaches, my family and everyone supporting me," Parker said. "It's a great honor, and it's really cool."

Parker was outstanding in her first season in Norman, becoming the team's ace and helping lead the Sooners to a sixth straight appearance in the Super Regionals. In 42 appearances in the circle, including 31 starts, Parker went 28-7 with a 1.65 earned run average. She struck out 224 batters and walked only 57 in 217.0 innings of work while holding batters to a .170 batting average. Parker had nine solo shutouts this year, combined on six others and also made three saves in relief.

This season, Parker threw four perfect games to join Louisiana-Lafayette's Kyla Hall (1994) and Boston U's Audrey West (1994) as the only pitchers in NCAA Division I history to throw four perfect games in a season. In addition, Parker is the 16th player in Division I history to have at least four perfect games in a career.

Named first-team All-Region, Parker became the fourth player ever to win Big 12 Pitcher of the Year and Big 12 Freshman of the Year in the same season. She finished the regular season leading the conference in ERA, wins, shutouts and opponents' average. Through the Super Regional stage of the season, Parker was 13th in the country in wins, 14th in hits per seven innings (4.16) and shutouts and 23rd in earned run average.

As she had in the circle, Parker also delivered at the plate throughout the 2015 season. She posted a .394 batting average on the year with five doubles, nine home runs and 43 runs batted in. She finished with a slugging percentage of .628 and an on-base percentage of .514.

Among the top three finalists for the award, which included Oregon's Jenna Lilley and Alabama's Alexis Osorio, Parker was the only player that both hit and pitched.

Seven times this season Parker was named the Big 12 Pitcher of the Week to set an OU record for most Pitcher of the Week honors in one season, passing the six earned by Keilani Ricketts in 2012. In addition, Parker tied Texas' Cat Osterman (2002) for the most ever by a Big 12 freshman. Parker also tied with Osterman and Texas A&M's Megan Gibson (2008) for the second most in a season in Big 12 history, trailing only the nine Big 12 Pitcher of the Week accolades won by Osterman as a senior in 2006.

"All I cared about this season was helping my teammates and doing what I could to help the team win," Parker said. "None of the awards really mattered or crossed my mind at all. I just wanted to be there for my team more than anything."

On April 14, Parker was named the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Week and the NFCA National Pitcher of the Week for her dominant weekend in Austin as she helped OU sweep Texas by going 2-0 with a save and striking out 21 batters without giving up a run. She allowed just four walks and six hits in 16.1 innings of work.

This is the second year that the NFCA Freshman of the Year has been in existence. Last season, Tennessee's Annie Aldrete and Auburn's Kasey Cooper shared the inaugural honor.

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