NORMAN – Oklahoma junior pitcher Paige Parker and sophomore infielders Shay Knighten and Sydney Romero were all named to the Top 50 “Watch List” for the 2017 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award, USA Softball announced Wednesday.
OU, the defending national champions and unanimous preseason No. 1 in both the NFCA and USA Softball polls, tied for the most honorees of any school in the country along with Arizona, Auburn, Florida and Florida State. Parker is one of 18 juniors on the list, while Knighten and Romero represent two of the six sophomores.
Parker is coming off one of the best seasons in program history. In addition to being the Women’s College World Series’ Most Outstanding Player, Parker was also a First-Team NFCA All-American, the Big 12 Female Athlete of the Year and the Big 12 Pitcher of the Year. She went 38-3 on the season with a 1.64 earned run average and 269 strikeouts to just 68 walks in 252.1 innings pitched in 2016. She led the nation in wins and ranked second in shutouts with 14. She was also 10th in strikeouts, 21st in ERA and 23rd in hits allowed per seven innings (4.83).
One of three finalists for the 2016 NFCA Freshman of the Year, Knighten was named the Big 12 Freshman of the Year and was a second-team All-American a year ago. She led the team in batting average (.397), home runs (13), runs batted in (62) and slugging percentage (.670), while ranking third on the squad in hits (71) and on-base percentage (.449). She’s started 35 games at first base, but showcased her versatility by also starting games at second base, designated player, right field and left field.
Along with Parker and Knighten, Romero was a member of the 2016 WCWS All-Tournament Team, while also receiving Second-Team All-Region and Second-Team All-12 honors. She played in 64 of 65 games with 63 starts at third base. She tied for the team lead with triples with three, while placing second among Sooners with 73 hits, 14 doubles and 10 home runs and finishing third on the team in runs (50) and slugging (.583). Additionally, she struck out just four times in 211 at-bats, giving her the third best strikeout ratio in school history at 52.75 at-bats per strikeout.
The USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award is now in its 16th season of existence and recognizes outstanding athletic achievement by Division I female collegiate softball players across the country.
The Top 25 finalists for the 2017 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award will be announced April 12 with the Top 10 finalists announced on May 10 and the Top 3 on May 24. The 2017 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year will be revealed May 30. An athlete does not have to be on the Top 50 “Watch List” to be considered for the award, though the winner will come from those placed on the Top 25.