NORMAN, Okla.– Oklahoma softball head coach Patty Gasso has announced the addition of six student-athletes on Wednesday’s National Signing Day.
“I would call this class, as a whole, very athletic,” Gasso said. “That’s something, as a coach, that I’ve been looking for over the last five or six years, just bringing in athletic student-athletes who are versatile and strong not just with the bat, but also with their arms, and who run well. Everybody in this group can do that.”
Paige Parker (Independence, Mo.,), Kelsey Arnold (Tulsa, Okla.), Lea Wodach (Coto de Caza, Calif.), Nicole Pendley (Rio Rancho, N.M.) and Destinie Lookout (Oklahoma City, Okla.) will join the squad in the fall of 2014, while Macey Hatfield (Maysville, Okla.) will begin play with the Sooners in the spring of 2014,
“We’ve got a nice mix of athletes from different parts of the country and the fact that they’re committing to the University of Oklahoma is a testament to this program and its winning tradition,” Gasso said. “I feel like I’ve got a very elite class of recruits coming in that will help us work toward winning another national championship.”
A pitcher, Parker has one year remaining at Truman High School in Independence, Mo. Parker has received numerous accolades throughout her career, including being named the 2010-11 and 2012-13 Gatorade Missouri High School Player of the Year. She has been a four-time first-team all-conference, all-district, all-region and all-state honoree. Her Truman team won the state championship last year and was runner-up her freshman campaign.
“Paige Parker is bringing the lefty back into the program,” Gasso said. “I think she’ll make an immediate impact as a freshman on the mound. She has such a high ceiling and I’m really excited about her future here. She is a hard-throwing lefty who can move it well, change speeds and can be a difference maker at the plate. She will remind fans of another lefty All-American we’re all familiar with.”
A utility player, Arnold comes to OU from Holland Hall Prep in Tulsa, Okla. She was a three-time All-North Zone player and was an all-conference honoree and Holland Hall’s Most Valuable Player in her junior season after hitting .813 with 30 runs scored, 26 hits, 19 RBI, 33 stolen bases and two home runs.
“Kelsey Arnold is just a tremendous, all-around athlete in high school,” Gasso noted. “She played about every sport in high school. As a softball athlete, she’s going to be a very versatile for us. She could play a corner position, she could play middle of the field, and she could play the outfield. I’ve seen her play all positions and collegiately she could play any of them, at our level.
“She has good power, but she also has great speed, so as a defense you don’t know what you’re going to get with her. She could lay down a bunt at any time, hit the ball into a gap for extra bases and she’s got the power to hit it out. She’s going to be someone that we’re looking at for the top of the lineup. She’s a playmaker, but also could be a game changer.”
A catcher out of Coto de Caza, Calif., Wodach joins the Sooners from Tesoro High School. She was third-team All-Orange County last season, as well as second-team All-South Coast League, after hitting .416 with 13 runs scored, 25 runs batted in, four home runs and two stolen bases.
“Lea just has a very athletic look behind the plate,” Gasso said. “She has a very strong arm and she’s agile behind the plate. She is going to be a very good leader; she has good knowledge of the game. She’s going to be someone that will handle pitchers very well and get the best out of them.”
In addition to her prowess on the softball field, Wodach has shown her athleticism on the basketball court, too. Last season Wodach earned conference MVP honors after averaging a double-double on the season and setting school records for 3-pointers in a game, as well as points and rebounds in a season.
“I think offensively, she’s such a strong athlete that I think she’s going to add some good power to the lineup,” Gasso added.
The Sooners welcome a familiar name with the addition of Nicole Pendley, younger sister of junior Shelby Pendley, the defending Big 12 Player of the Year. Nicole finds her way to Norman via Rio Rancho High School in Rio Rancho, N.M.
Nicole was named first-team all-state, all-district and all-metro while setting the school’s single-season home run record (19). As a junior she hit .600 with 43 runs scored, 37 RBI, 19 home runs and 42 stolen bases.
“Nicole Pendley is going to be a fun player to watch,” Gasso said. “She’s a triple threat: she’s a slapper, she can lay down a bunt and she can hit for power. She will cause havoc for opposing defenses. She has a strong arm and has good speed in the outfield. She’s another very good athlete in this class.”
Another Sooner State product, Lookout is a native of Oklahoma City and attends Westmoore High School. She was named the District 4 Player of the Year and was an All-State Large West honoree. In her senior season, Lookout hit .489 with nine home runs, 44 RBI, 45 runs scored and 31 walks, of which 25 were intentional.
“Destinie Lookout is a local product who will bring a lot of power,” Gasso explained. “She has a very intimidating swing and never gets cheated at the plate. What I like about her in high school is that she plays third and she can pitch, so she’s athletic enough to do what she needs to do to help her team win. But what she’s going to be known for is an absolutely fierce bat.”
Hatfield will join the Sooners beginning this January after spending the fall semester at Seminole State. At Lindsay High School, she was named the Sooner Conference Offensive Player of the Year as a senior and was chosen for the conference’s all-star team. Hatfield was also tabbed as the school’s Female Athlete of the Year.
“Macey is a very versatile athlete,” Gasso said. “She’s been to our camp and I’ve been able to see her play second, I’ve seen her behind the plate and play in the outfield. In the short time that she was at Seminole State she really proved that she was a woman among girls. We faced her this fall and she was a very tough out for our pitching staff.
“We think that she can help us immediately. She will be a late addition to this team, but she will add tremendously to our depth, and her talents will enable her to try to find a way to get into this lineup. She is a good athlete and will fight for a starting spot.”