OU Softball: Oklahoma Freshman Ella Parker Picked Herself Up and Delivered Big

The Sooners' freshman went 3-for-4 with a home run and the game-tying hit in the sixth inning to lock up a spot with Texas in a dramatic extra-inning win over Florida.
Oklahoma's Ella Parker (5) and Kasidi Pickering (7)
Oklahoma's Ella Parker (5) and Kasidi Pickering (7) / SARAH PHIPPS/THE OKLAHOMAN / USA TODAY

OKLAHOMA CITY — Freshman or not, Ella Parker was not going to let Oklahoma’s senior class go out like that.

The Sooners’ fabulous rookie literally picked herself up off the dirt Tuesday at Devon Park, shook off the cobwebs from a major collision, then delivered the game-tying hit with two out in the bottom of the sixth inning.

The game ended in the eighth inning with Jayda Coleman’s opposite field, walk-off home run that won the game, gave OU a dramatic 6-5 win over Florida and sent the Sooners back to the Championship Series of the Women’s College World Series.

No. 2-seed OU will play No. 1 Texas for all the softball marbles on Wednesday night.

But Coleman’s hit would have never happened without Parker’s big day: 3-for-4 at the plate with a first-inning, two-run home run, a fifth-inning long single and a sixth-inning single.

Each of Parker’s hits was huge. The first tied it at 2-2. The last tied it at 5-5. But the single in between was massive for an entirely different reason.

Parker roped a line drive into the gap in right center field and hustled her way to second base. As the throw came in, Gators shortstop Skylar Wallace stood over the base and reached out for the ball.

Parker appeared to smash face-first into Wallace, sending both players sprawling on the bag as the ball hit the ground.

“I kind of don't really remember a whole lot of it,”  just because like the, I guess, adrenaline rushing,” Parker said. “But, just doing whatever to get to second base.” 

OU coach Patty Gasso immediately ran onto the field and stood over Parker while she received medical treatment.

“She was talking,” Gasso said, “but she didn't want to move. I think her bell was rung — pretty hard. It was a little bit scary, because she's pretty tough and she just did not want to move. So that first thing, you're like ‘Did something really happen?’ 

“She started to move around a little bit. We took her helmet off. And then she slowly got herself up. But her bell was rung. Both got hit pretty hard. I need to go back and look at it more because it happened so fast.”

“That was just an odd thing that happened,” said Florida coach Tim Walton.

Gasso said OU’s medical team checked over Parker and cleared her.

“We had our doctors right there in the dugout waiting to see her and gave her the OK,” Gasso said. “She passed all the protocols, all the tests for concussion protocol. So she wanted it. We asked ‘Are you OK? I know you got clearance; are you good with it?’ 

“ ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah, get me back in there.”

The Sooners still trailed 5-4 in the sixth inning when Parker came to the plate again. By then, OU pitcher Kelly Maxwell was dialed in. Maxwell had given up three home runs early, but the Gators’ fourth and final hit was an infield single in the sixth.

That’s why Parker’s final at-bat was so important. OU’s offense, which had labored for the better part of two games against Florida starter Keagan Rothrock, needed a kickstart.

“I think that kind of started a rally for our team to pass the bat,” Coleman said.

Avery Hodge got the rally going when she dropped a one-out double into the right-field corner.

Parker took strike one, then brought home the speedy Hodge from second with a sharp single to left center field off Rothrock. The crowd of 11,166 went into a frenzy. 

OU had a chance to end it in the seventh when Kasidi Pickering hit a one-out single and Rylie Boone was intentionally walked, but that rally died.

After another strong frame from Maxwell, Coleman finally finished it off it in the eighth.

“I know my team's got my back,” Parker said. “Just working on passing the bat. Just, yeah, passing the bat to the next teammate.”


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John E. Hoover

JOHN E. HOOVER

John is an award-winning journalist whose work spans five decades in Oklahoma, with multiple state, regional and national awards as a sportswriter at various newspapers. During his newspaper career, John covered the Dallas Cowboys, the Kansas City Chiefs, the Oklahoma Sooners, the Oklahoma State Cowboys, the Arkansas Razorbacks and much more. In 2016, John changed careers, migrating into radio and launching a YouTube channel, and has built a successful independent media company, DanCam Media. From there, John has written under the banners of Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, Fan Nation and a handful of local and national magazines while hosting daily sports talk radio shows in Oklahoma City, Tulsa and statewide. John has also spoken on Capitol Hill in Oklahoma City in a successful effort to put more certified athletic trainers in Oklahoma public high schools. Among the dozens of awards he has won, John most cherishes his national "Beat Writer of the Year" from the Associated Press Sports Editors, Oklahoma's "Best Sports Column" from the Society of Professional Journalists, and Two "Excellence in Sports Medicine Reporting" Awards from the National Athletic Trainers Association. John holds a bachelor's degree in Mass Communications from East Central University in Ada, OK. Born and raised in North Pole, Alaska, John played football and wrote for the school paper at Ada High School in Ada, OK. He enjoys books, movies and travel, and lives in Broken Arrow, OK, with his wife and two kids.