NORMAN — University of Oklahoma softball's Paige Parker was selected as the 2017-18 Big 12 Female Sportsperson of the Year, the league office announced Tuesday.
Parker recently completed her four-year career with the Sooners and graduated with a degree in arts and sciences planned program in May. Dalton Risner of Kansas State football was named the Male Sportsperson of the Year.
The Big 12 Sportsperson of the Year Awards began in 2000-01 to annually recognize student-athletes who displayed an extraordinary degree of sportsmanship, community service and academic achievement. This year's winners were selected by a media panel.
Parker finished her collegiate career as one of the most accomplished pitchers in OU history, becoming just the third Sooner to earn All-America status four times. She is also the second pitcher in the history of the conference to be named Big 12 Pitcher of the Year four times. Each season, Parker registered an ERA below 1.70 and held opponents below a .200 batting average, including a career-best 0.82 ERA and .155 opponent batting average in 2018.
While excelling on the field, Parker always maintained a team-first mindset. After tossing back-to-back shutouts in one day at the 2018 Women's College World Series, Parker emphasized her goals of supporting her teammates.
“It was just about going out there and competing and doing anything I could to help my team win,” Parker said postgame. “My team is so important to me, and I love them so much, and I wanted to do anything for them.”
Similarly, after earning her 100th career win in March, Parker credited her teammates for her success: “It's pretty special to share this with my teammates because without them, there would be no wins.”
After postgame media obligations at home, Parker would stay late to sign autographs and take photos with fans and frequently did so on the road as well. Away from the field, Parker has volunteered with the OK Kids Korral, the Rivermont Senior Center, the Oklahoma City Children's Hospital and Washington Elementary School in Norman.
Parker was also a leader in the classroom, named a three-time CoSIDA Academic All-American and Academic All-Big 12 Honoree. In 2018, Parker was named a Senior CLASS Award First-Team selection, earned the Big 12 Conference Medal Award and received the Big 12 Gerald Lage Academic Achievement Award.
Selected as the No. 6 overall pick in the 2018 National Pro Fastpitch draft, Parker signed with the USSSA Pride earlier this month.