Setting Records: Queen Creek’s Parlich bats .400 at U of Minn

Danielle Parlich is the first freshman at the University of Minnesota to hit a .400 batting average. (Courtesy of University of Minnesota Athletics).

Softball player Danielle Parlich had an “phenomenal freshman season,” according to the athletic department at the University of Minnesota
Parlich started playing softball at the age of 6. Softball runs in the family for Parlich, who will be entering her sophomore season playing softball at the University of Minnesota. Her sister, Sam, also played softball at the collegiate level.
“My parents played a variety of sports growing up, so they made me and my sister play different sports to see what we liked,”

Danielle Parlich (Courtesy of University of Minnesota Athletics)

Danielle Parlich (Courtesy of University of Minnesota Athletics)

Parlich said. “We started playing softball, my sister and I and we both really liked it.”
Parlich played softball and basketball for the longest time, she said.
Both sisters eventually hit a point where they had to pick a single sport.
“My parents told us (which sport) would you like to end up with at college or go with?’” Parlich said. “And we both said softball.”
Parlich played for the Arizona Hotshots club team while attending Basha High School.
“When you have a kid that is naturally gifted as Danielle, you really just want her to go out do what she does all the time,” Keith Householder, Parlich’s coach with the Hotshots said.
Parlich’s older sister influenced how she played the game, Householder said.
“Her competitiveness, being the younger sister to Sam, was really the driving force with her,” Householder said. “Not only did she want to win games, she wanted to be the best person at practice.”
Parlich’s sister Sam is five years older than her, and played softball for Arizona State University. Watching Sam play at ASU, encouraged Parlich to follow her dream.
“It made me want to continue more because I was proud of her playing and going to college and I just wanted to follow and play just as well as her,” Parlich said. “I wanted to find a school for me.”
Parlich, originally from Illinois, wanted to return to the Midwest to find that school.
“My sister, actually, thought of Coach (Jessica) Allister (University of Minnesota’s coach) because she played against them at ASU,” Parlich said
Householder wanted to help Parlich find that school too, he said. She had offers from Boston University, North Carolina State and some smaller schools, Householder said.
“I just called (Coach Allister) and said ‘hey I have a kid that you’re going to really like,’” Householder said. “Once she’d seen Danielle play on the field, there was no doubt she could play.”
Allister came out to a few of Parlich’s games on recruiting trips.
“Danielle is just a very mature softball player, so she understands the game very well,” Allister said. “She is a great base runner, a really great fielder, she is a great hitter.”
There were a few things that Parlich said sold her on attending Minnesota, it was an older style campus, they do a lot of volunteer work there and, because it’s in the Midwest, it has all four seasons.
“The coaches are what I was looking for in a coach, because they are all about academics, and also softball, which I find very important,” Parlich said. “It was the perfect fit.”
During Parlich’s freshman season, 2014-15, she set a school record for being the first freshman to have a .400 batting average, according to a press release from the University of Minnesota. The teams season batting average was .339.
“I did not realize that was a record,” Parlich said. “I was just surprised.”
Householder says he keeps up with girls who have played for him in the past as was not surprised that she hit .400.
“Her mom would text me once in a while ‘hey she hit her first home run’ or ‘had three hits today’ or ‘she had a game winning hit’ or ‘she had a great play’,” Householder said. “Since I was keeping track of it, I wasn’t surprised, in fact I thought she would finish the season around .420.”

Special to the Independent/University of Minnesota Athletics Queen Creek’s Danielle Parlich started all 60 regular season home games at second base as a freshman. (Courtesy of University of Minnesota Athletics)

Queen Creek’s Danielle Parlich started all 60 regular season home games at second base as a freshman. (Courtesy of University of Minnesota Athletics)

Coach Allister said that Parlich hitting .400 was a tremendous feat.
“I think it just speaks to her consistency,”  Allister said. “And I think that is one of her strengths, she was very consistent in the box and not intimidated by any pitcher.”
Householder said that Parlich’s last year with his team she hit almost .600 at nationals. He said that Parlich might be one of the best three players that he has taught in his 20 years of coaching.
Parlich said that it proved her hard work paid off.
“I hope in the future to hopefully get that again and hope to improve and get even higher,” Parlich said
But her batting average at home was even higher. At home she was hitting .490.
“We have our fans behind us,” Parlich said. “My family came and watched a couple games, so it was fun to be able to play in front of them.”
Minnesota only played 15 of it’s 60 games at home, where schools like ASU played 33 games at home, according to it’s schedule last year.
“We don’t get to play at home as often as (playing at) ASU, UA all the other schools in the warm states,” Parlich said. “It makes us more pumped to be playing at home.”
Over the summer break, Parlich is back in in the club system, as a coach for Householder.
“A lot of times really good players don’t know how to teach the game,” Householder said. “Danielle has done a really good job of taking what she has learned from Coach Allister and Coach Merchant at Minnesota and relaying it to the girls.”
Parlich said she is looking forward to the upcoming season.
“My goals are to continue to work hard, to try to help my team win,” Parlich said. “Our (team) goal obviously is to try get to the world series and hopefully achieve that. Continue to work hard, work as a team and believe in one another.”

Arianna Grainey is a freelance photojournalist.

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