“I knew I was only three away to start the game,” Parish told NCAA.com. “I just wanted to stay in the zone and let my defense work behind me. If I got just a few strikeouts here and there, I knew I could break it.”
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Parish, nor the Lions, wasted little time. The southpaw picked up strikeout No. 472 in the top of the first before the Lions erupted for 11 runs in the bottom half of the inning. That allowed Parish to get comfortable and fire away with his fastball.
“I was just throwing fastballs,” Parish said. “We had a game plan for the bottom of their lineup and all I had to do was execute and the rest is history.”
— Wayne Cavadi (@UofDWayne) May 7, 2021
That’s a phrase that is sometimes overused, but in Parish’s case it was fact. The rest was indeed, history, and after tacking on five more strikeouts before the end of his day, Parish sits alone atop the DII leaderboard — in fewer innings than the four pitchers right behind him.
|Zach Parish*||Northeastern State; Missouri Southern||2015-21||66||372||479|
|Jay Smith||Florida Southern||1970-73||59||412.2||471|
|Ben Ochoa||La Verne||1969-72||80||507.0||455|
|Bill Gilbreth||Abilene Christian||1966-69||40||314.2||445|
|John Caneira||Eastern Conn. St.||1971-73||47||297.1||434|
* = active
While Parish makes it look easy, it wasn’t always that way. He began his career at Northeastern State and was a very different pitcher. In his two years with the River Hawks, Parish posted a 4.57 ERA over 153.2 innings with a 9.3 strikeout-per-nine rate. In his three years with the Lions, he’s posted a 2.23 ERA in 218.2 inning with a flashy 13.2 strikeout-per-nine rate. The difference?
“Just having the confidence to throw my pitches in any count I need to,” Parish said. “Being down 3-0 in a count and being able to throw my change up to keep everyone off guard helps a lot. I developed my slider a lot better and improved on my consistency to hit the strike zone.”
Well, that and emulating Randy Johnson as a youngster. While Parish stands at just 6-foot-2, nearly one foot shorter than his childhood idol, he certainly has instilled fear into opposing hitters throughout his career. Looking back at his milestone strikeouts, it’s interesting that No. 100 came with Northeastern State against the very same Missouri Southern team for which he is now the ace.
|No. 100||Missouri Southern||May 6, 2016|
|No. 200||Missouri Western||March 1, 2019|
|No. 300||Northwestern Oklahoma||Jan. 31, 2020|
|No. 400||Central Oklahoma||March 19, 2021|
|No. 474||Rogers State||May 7, 2021|
This summer, Parish will play the new MLB Draft League for the State College Spikes. A rare four-pitch college pitcher, Parish will have a chance to showcase himself in hopes of continuing his success at the next level. As the MIAA tournament looms, we know Parish will have at least one more start to cushion his record, but there is little doubt that the Lions are hoping they have him for a few more into June.