The Oklahoma Sooners won the College World Series for the second straight year earlier this month, and junior pitcher Paige Parker played a key part. Parker was last year's Most Outstanding Player, and followed it up with a 2017 season where she finished with 262 strikeouts in 210.1 innings pitched and a 1.43 ERA. Those 262 strikeouts were good for 13th in the country and the ERA ranked 24th. That is to say: she's nasty. Royals catcher Drew Butera found out just how nasty last week, when Parker warmed up before throwing the ceremonial first pitch at Kauffman Stadium.
The Royals had reached out to OU to see if Parker would be interested in throwing out the first pitch, and as a lifelong fan who grew up 15 minutes from the stadium, she definitely was. Parker told Soonersports.com, "I really feel like I didn't even blink an eye before I said yes just because I was so excited."
When she got to the stadium, she headed for the batting cages where she started warming up with Butera, to whom she'd be throwing the first pitch. Soon, other Royals players, including third baseman Mike Moustakas, were hanging around and wanted to see her full arsenal. That's when she nearly knocked Butera over.
"Some of their reactions were really cool, so that's something I won't ever forget," she said. "They were pretty shocked about how much my ball moved. I think they were especially fascinated by my rise ball because they never see that. They had some pretty funny reactions. Drew had a hard time catching some of my rise balls, which was pretty funny."
While she threw, Parker said that Moustakas sat behind home plate most of the time. It was around this time, too, when Parker's favorite player, first baseman Eric Hosmer came over to watch her throw, as did second baseman Whit Merrifield.
"Yeah, I was freaking out at the point," Parker said of Hosmer's presence. "I was trying to keep my composure but on the inside I was freaking out."
After the warmups, Parker went out and threw a perfect strike to Butera, with Sluggerrr serving as umpire. All in all, a pretty good day for a two-time World Series champ.