Sports

MVP Marley: Parker pitches Heat to national title

Walnut Grove’s Marley Parker won MVP honours as the Delta Heat 96 captured the U16 girls fastpitch national title. Parker is now off to Mississippi’s Alcorn State on scholarship. She will suit up for both the softball and volleyball teams. - Gary Ahuja/Langley Times
Walnut Grove’s Marley Parker won MVP honours as the Delta Heat 96 captured the U16 girls fastpitch national title. Parker is now off to Mississippi’s Alcorn State on scholarship. She will suit up for both the softball and volleyball teams.
— image credit: Gary Ahuja/Langley Times

Forced to the sidelines during one of the premier events, Marley Parker took full advantage.

A nagging elbow injury prompted the coaches of the Delta Heat 96 to tell their ace pitcher that she would be forced to watch from the sidelines at the Canadian Open Fastpitch championships, an annual showcase event held every July at Surrey’s Softball City.

“She was disappointed she couldn’t play, but at the same time, she understood,” explained Heat coach Gord Collings.

“And obviously it paid off because she came through  so well for us at nationals, especially in the playoff round.”

Collings was referring to Parker’s performance earlier this month at the U18 national fastpitch championships.

Buoyed by Parker’s dominance on the mound, the Heat went undefeated in capturing the national championship at the tournament in Saskatoon.

It was the second national championship for the group in three years as they also captured the U16 title in 2012. And both times, Parker was named most valuable player.

“The season wasn’t going quite the way I wanted, so for everything to come together like it did at nationals was obviously great,” Parker said.

“I was just able to figure some stuff out.”

After hurting her elbow at provincials, Parker was kept out of the Heat’s lineup at the Canadian Open. She spent that time both resting and altering her pitching style to alleviate some pain in her elbow.

Parker went back to a previous pitching style she had used and was dominant at nationals, especially in the playoff round.

In those three games, she had an earned run average of 0.96. She also struck out 14 batters.

And now comes the next chapter in Parker’s athletic exploits as she left earlier this week for Alcorn State University in Mississippi.

The 18-year-old — who graduated from Walnut Grove Secondary this past year — is on a full-ride athletic scholarship for the women’s softball team. She will also be joining the Lady Braves’ volleyball team.

Softball is her main sport, but she also enjoys volleyball. Parker, a left-side/power hitter, played just at the high school level with the Gators as she didn’t have time to play at the club level.

And the fact she will be a two-sport athlete at university doesn’t surprise Collings.

“She is a tremendous athlete and very committed,” he said.

Parker’s success comes from her skill set and her determination.

“When she gets in there, she is not deterred by what the situation is, what the count is, or whatever,” he said.

“She just goes after (the batter) and gives it her all.”

Parker, who plans to study health sciences, said earning a scholarship was one goal, and playing for the Canadian national team is another.

“If that was in the cards, I would love that,” she said.

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