Sara Parsons is tearing the cover off the ball.
She and her Nevada softball teammates are giving opposing pitchers nightmares, too.
Parsons has more than picked up where she left off last season as a first-team All-Western Athletic Conference selection. She is one of the best outfielders — if not the best — in the Mountain West Conference and has exploded at the plate.
Parsons has helped lead the Wolf Pack to a 20-13 record including winning 10 of their last 11 games. She is first in the MW in RBIs (34), fourth in home runs (six), third in doubles (10) and runs scored (27), fourth in total bases (63), ninth in hits (35) and is in the top 20 in average at .347.
Parsons’ play has been so impressive, Nevada coach Matt Meuchel selected Parsons to play alongside the baseball team in its annual scrimmage against the Reno Aces at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Aces Ballpark.
Parsons’ success, though, comes as little shock to those who have been around her. Driven and focused, Parsons took a rough freshman season and turned into one of the best in the WAC.
She hit the gym, hard, and it has paid dividends. Meuchel moved her to centerfield, away from third base and behind the plate, her two comfort zones coming up through the Fallon programs.
Learning a new position is not the easiest of tasks, but Parsons has been a constant force in the outfield for Nevada.
She is, though, one of many threats for the Pack. In their inaugural season in the MW, Nevada is chasing a league title. A MW crown would be the club’s first title since 2009.
As a team, Nevada is killing the ball. Each four-game series brings another barrage of homers and whiplash to opposing pitchers.
The club boasts a ludicrious .328 team average, tops in the conference. The Pack also leads with a team slugging percentage of .527, .420 on-base percentage, runs scored (203), hits (294), RBIs (190), doubles (68) and, of course, home runs (36).
Meuchel’s club is miles away from their MW foes as league leaders, but this marks where the real season begins. The Pack have struggled against lesser opponents, losing three times to Idaho State (12-15). On the flip side, Nevada did drop No. 20 Hawaii earlier this season.
But for Parsons and the Pack to be crowned champs, Nevada must circle the wagons. Pitching and defense was the downfall for Nevada early in the season. Slowly but surely, the staff has settled down and are giving the offense a chance early in games to strike first.
With a ridiculous offense, the pitchers must allow its offense to be the catalyst. Offense, not defense, is this team’s identity.
Nevertheless, Nevada must rely on the right arms of Karlyn Jones and Megan Dortch. She leads the MW in wins (13), is third in strikeouts (96) and most importantly, fourth in opponents batting average (.227).
Dortch, meanwhile, has been inconsistent throughout most of the season. Recently, the former Bishop Manogue standout has settled into her usual self in the circle.
Offense will take Nevada deep into the MW tournament, but Jones and Dortch will determine whether a NCAA tournament berth is in the cards.
Steve Puterski is the sports editor for the Lahontan Valley News and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.