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June 5, 2013

The Porter Report

Parsons of interest

PRYOR, OK — I've never seen a player get swarmed and congratulated by her teammates after being thrown out trying to stretch a double into a triple.

I've also never seen anything like what I saw Monday night in the Women's College World Series.

Pryor's own Callie Parsons was down to the Sooners' last out — their last strike, even — before she popped an RBI double, capping a clutch stretch of hitting to tie Tennessee at three in the bottom of the 11th inning, sending the game into even more extra innings.

Parsons was the subject of a wonderful story by our own Kenny Bowyer in Tuesday's edition, but due to deadline constraints Kenny didn't get to write about Parsons' biggest hit of her career, much to his chagrin.

“Best game I've ever watched,” he texted me the next day.

And boy, what a show Game 1 of the WCWS was.

Thankfully, Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals was well in the hands of LeBron and Co. early on, so I was able to switch to the WCWS fairly quickly. After flipping over during commercials (“Still nothing-nothing,” I thought every time), I picked the game up full-time in the sixth and watched the last six harrowing innings — five of which had walk-off potential.

Senior Lauren Chamberlain's game-winning two-run home run in the bottom of the 12th overshadowed some of the smaller moments and performances in the game — I'd probably be fired if I failed to mention senior Keilani Ricketts' 12-inning, 188-pitch complete game masterpiece, essentially slinging two full games back-to-back — but Parsons, the eighth hitter in the lineup, stole most of my attention.

It says a lot about the state of head coach Patty Gasso's OU program to be confident enough in her eighth hitter to leave Parsons at the plate to save the Sooners' season, and even more to be reckless — no, assured — enough to send her on to third after she drove in the tying run.

After that rally, OU had all the momentum. From the bottom of the 11th inning of Game 1 on, the Sooners outscored Tennessee 9-0, including the tying three-run rally, Chamberlain's homer to close Game 1 and all four runs to seal the title in Game 2.

Oh, right, that's the other story. The Sooners won the national title for the second time in the program's history.

Ricketts, who allowed all three Volunteer runs off of an 11th-inning homer in Game 1 to put the Sooners in the 3-0 hole, was benched in Game 2.

For any other team, benching your ace in the World Series would mean trouble, but there's more than one All-American pitcher in the Sooner dugout. In this case, it was Michelle Gascoigne, who pitched seven shutout innings.

And Ricketts? Well, just because the senior wasn't in the circle doesn't mean she didn't help out in other ways, like driving in all four Sooner runs, including a three-run home run to put OU up for good.

Parsons, a sophomore, may have had a quiet Game 2, but her heroics in Game 1 set the stage for seniors Ricketts and Gascoigne to end their careers on the highest note.

What really sets Parsons apart from the talent of Ricketts, Gascoigne and Chamberlain, though, is fairly easy to spot just by looking down the 2013 OU roster.

Those last three? All California imports. Parsons? Straight out of Mayes County, Okla.

With the outline of the state adorning the Sooners' batting helmets and ASA Hall of Fame Stadium — the long-time host site of the WCWS — just minutes from tornado-ravaged Moore, this win means a little more to the nine Oklahomans on the OU roster. The Sooners had the home crowd last weekend, and they certainly did not disappoint.

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