Oklahoma pitcher Paige Parker saved her best performance for when the Sooners needed it the most Wednesday evening.
Parker was brilliant for seven more innings this season, and the Sooners are the national champions because of it, winning a tight 2-1 contest against fourth-seeded Auburn in Game 3 of the Women’s College World Series championship series at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium.
All the second-guessing of Patty Gasso, all the questions of whether or not Parker should have pitched went right out the window in a masterful outing to let Parker end the season at 38-3 and 10-0 in the postseason.
OU, seeded third, struck early, scoring its only two runs of the game in the bottom of the first inning. After that, it was let Parker do what she has done all season. She gave up five hits and one run and struck out five.
The Sooners haven’t always been able to avoid drama in the late innings, but there were no issues this time around as Parker pitched a perfect 1-2-3 inning to give the Sooners their third softball national championship and second since 2013 (all under Gasso).
Gasso came under a lot of scrutiny when electing to rest Parker on Tuesday evening. It seemed like it wouldn’t matter when the Sooners ran out to a 7-0 lead. But Auburn scored the final 11 runs of the game, punctuated by a walk-off grand slam.
Physically, it felt like the Sooners could come back. But mentally? That would be another story. With a rested, healthy Parker, however, OU was able to put Tuesday in the rear view mirror and hoist a championship Wednesday evening.
OU finishes the season 57-8 and winners of 32 of its last 33, putting the finishing touches on an incredible final two months of the season.