The 2015 Oklahoma softball team became the first in Big 12 Conference history to capture each of the four major end-of-season awards. The 2016 squad has done one better.
In addition to winning Big 12 Player of the Year, Pitcher of the Year, Freshman of the Year and Coach of the Year for the second year in a row, OU also took home Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year as the award returned to the fold for the first time since 2012.
Senior Erin Miller was named co-Big 12 Player of the Year with Oklahoma’s Vanessa Shippy to become the first outfielder in league history to win the award. It marks the second year in a row, the fourth time in the last five years and the sixth time in the last eight years that a Sooner has won the award. Miller is the ninth different Sooner to be Big 12 Player of the Year and her win marks the 11th such honor in program annals.
Miller hit .361 in league play and led Oklahoma with 22 hits, 21 runs scored, four doubles and 38 total bases. She also tied for the team lead in home runs with four.
Sophomore Paige Parker was named Big 12 Pitcher of the Year for the second year in a row, joining former Texas Longhorn Cat Osterman as the only players to win the award as both a freshman and sophomore. Parker becomes the fourth player to win the award more than once in league history and the first Sooner to do so.
Parker was literally unbeatable in league action. She went 13-0 with six shutouts and led the conference with a 1.43 earned run average, 78.1 innings pitched, 86 strikeouts, 11 complete games and an opponents’ batting average of .182.
Shay Knighten became the fifth Sooner to be recognized as the Big 12 Freshman of the Year. She had a team-high .412 batting average and 18 runs batted in during conference play and tied for the team lead in home runs with four.
After a three-year hiatus, the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Award returned and was given to OU sophomore Kelsey Arnold. The Tulsa, Okla., native started all 18 games at shortstop and was perfect on all 56 chances she had, leading OU to a league-best .987 field percentage. Previously awarded from 2004-2012, Arnold is the fourth Sooner to take home the honor.
Patty Gasso was chosen as the Big 12 Coach of the Year for the ninth time in her career as she guided OU to an unprecedented fifth consecutive league crown with a program-best 17-1 mark. She has won the award in each of the last five seasons while no other coach in the history of the league has even won the honor more than three times.
Parker, Knighten and Miller were each named to the All-Big 12 First Team, while sophomore Nicole Pendley and freshmen Caleigh Clifton, Fale Aviu and Sydney Romero were placed on the All-Big 12 Second Team.
Knighten, Clifton, Aviu and Romero also occupied four of the 10 spots on the All-Big 12 Freshman Team.
The No. 3 seed in the 2016 NCAA Division I Softball Championship, Oklahoma hosts the Norman Regional this weekend as Wichita State, Tulsa and Ole Miss visit Marita Hynes Field.