PRYOR, OK —
The No. 1 Oklahoma Sooner softball team’s 2013 season can be described best with one word: dominant. After their run-ruled win over rival Texas on Saturday, the Sooners improved to 52-4 on the season. Want more dominance? The Sooners have played seven games so far during the post season, and four of them have been run-ruled victories. Still not enough evidence? OU has outscored their opponents this season by 366 runs.
That, my friends, is dominance, and part of the reason for the Sooners’ dominance this year is their starting lineup. It’s the “Murderer’s Row” of college softball; trouble in every spot, from the 1-hole to the 9-hole; including the 8-hole.
“It shows you how stacked OU is, when Callie is in the 8-hole,” said Pryor High School softball coach Matt Davis.
The girl he is talking about is former Pryor Tiger All-State softball player and current starter for the Sooners, Callie Parsons.
Parsons was a leadoff hitter for the Tigers, but honestly, she could play anywhere in the lineup. She is coming off a career best performance Saturday against Texas, going 2-3 at the plate and driving in three runs. OU is the hands-down favorite to win it all this week, as they take on Tennessee in a best-of-three series, which was set to begin Monday night.
Parsons saw limited action last year in the CWS, but since becoming a starter midway through the season this year, things have been a little different.
“Last year I was used as a pinch runner during the series,” Parsons said. “Now by being a starter, I feel as though I can contribute more as a player."
Callie was recruited by OU and verbally committed to the Sooners when she was a sophomore at PHS. After being noticed at a camp at OU her freshman year at Pryor, Sooner Coach Patty Gasso followed her progress on traveling teams and offered her a spot. Callie’s dream was to play at OU.
“My sister went to OU. So by growing up in Oklahoma, it was just always a dream of mine to play for the Sooners,” Parsons said.
It would have been very easy for someone with Callie’s stature (who verbally committed to powerhouse Oklahoma as a sophomore) to get a prima donna attitude, but not Parsons. Whatever needed to be done, she did.
“She wanted to win and wanted to play,” said Davis. “She didn’t have an ego. If something needed picked up or the dirt needed raked, she did it. She is the hardest working kid I have ever coached.”
Lauren Chamberlain, who is considered by many as one of the best players in the country, agrees with Coach Davis about her current teammate.
"She’s one of the hardest workers I know," said Chamberlain. "She makes me and others want to put in extra work. She's humble and selfless, and a huge contributor. She's an amazing teammate".
One time during her senior year at Pryor, Callie snuck into the indoor hitting facility on a Saturday night at 8:30. Coach Davis was on his way to Tulsa, and saw the reflection of car taillights near the facility, so he went over to check it out. To his surprise, it was Callie taking a few extra swings.
“That just goes to show you what kind of player she is,” said Davis. “What kind of 17-year old girl on a Saturday night, is sneaking into an indoor hitting facility to take extra cuts? She had a look on her face like that cat just ate the canary, but all I could do was smile and tell her to turn off the lights when she was done.”
The Sooners have enjoyed the friendly confines of ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City. Playing in front of a predominantly Sooner crowd, Parsons and her teammates have fed off of it.
“Playing at Hall of Fame Stadium, you not only hear the crowd, but you feel the crowd,” Parsons said. “It is an awesome experience to play here in front of these people.”
After tornadoes ravaged the Oklahoma City area the last couple of weeks, the one thing that all Okies can hang their batting helmets on has been the Sooner softball team. OU has been on a mission to restore some normalcy to the area. Not only that, but the girls are, in a sense, playing for more than just themselves.
“With all the tornadoes that have hit this area, we are just trying to give something back,” said Parsons. “To play for this state, is an awesome feeling.”
Oklahoma has built itself as a hard-working state, and Parsons is a product of that.
“You know, coaches at Owasso or Jenks and Union might have kids with Division 1 talent all the time, but here in Pryor it doesn’t happen like that,” said Davis. “Here as a coach, you always preach to your team, what it takes to get to the level you want to go, and when you can point to someone like Callie, who these kids know, it just backs up what you say about hard work.”
One thing though is for sure, no matter what happens this week in the World Series, or in the years to come, Parsons will remain true to her roots.
“No matter what,” Callie said, “I’ll always be a Pryor Tiger.”
And no matter what Callie, we all can learn a thing or two about your work ethic.