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CINDY YAMANAKA, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Junior Serafine Parrish has developed into a standout pitcher for Dana Hills this season. Parrish has a 'strong work ethic that continues into the offseason,' says Coach Brandon Cosenza. 'She's fiery and very competitive.'

Dana Hills' Parrish lifts her game to new level

STAFF WRITER

Since she started playing softball 11 years ago, Serafine Parrish has believed in herself and her abilities in the circle.

But, humbling as softball can be, Parrish realized after her sophomore season at Dana Hills that extra work and dedication to her craft could take her to the next level.

That’s not to say Parrish’s confidence waivered during a sophomore season that saw her split time in the circle with teammate Carlee Russo, but her determination to become stronger has vaulted her to give Coach Brandon Cosenza a clear choice at who his starting pitcher should be this season.

“She’s grown a lot, and her work ethic started back in August in the weight room,” Cosenza said. “She was blowing people out of the water with her strength gains and we noticed right away that her velocity was up. She’s worked a ton.”

Parrish dedicated herself to the weight room during the offseason, pushing her limits in order to gain strength and power. It’s paid off for the Dolphins, who are 11-9 overall, but look to challenge for the South Coast League title over the next four weeks.

In the circle, Parrish’s velocity is faster than ever. At the plate, she leads the Dolphins with four home runs.

“I would get on machines after her and would have to bring the weight down,” teammate Tori Sickmeier said of the offseason workouts. “She doesn’t stop herself from working. She’s always pushing herself to get to the next level.”

Her season has been highlighted by two standout performances. In a nonleague game against San Clemente, Parrish threw three no-hit innings and mashed two home runs on March 22.

Against Mission Viejo on April 14, Parrish held the defending South Coast League champions in check, limiting the Diablos to five hits while striking out five in 7 2/3 innings. The Dolphins lost 3-2, but that game added to Parrish’s confidence in knowing she can compete with any team.

“It was great for us to see the competition,” she said. “It will help when we get into the playoffs because we’ve seen it all.”

With four weeks left in the regular season, Parrish’s numbers have already surpassed her totals from last year. She carried a 2.28 earned run average and 173 strikeouts in 113 2/3 innings heading into this week.

She’s thrown five complete-game shutouts and has limited teams to two hits in four of her 15 complete games.

While in the circle, Parrish attempts to push perfection with the sole purpose of taking pressure off her teammates. The more she hits her spots, the less her teammates have to worry about playing perfectly behind her.

When Parrish’s performance is not up to her own standards, she’s the first person re-entering the dugout and apologizing to her teammates.

“She’s always in it. She’s so passionate and always wants it,” catcher Tori Sickmeier said. “She’s so determined, and it comes out in those competitive moments. She’s never afraid.”

Parrish has five pitches in her arsenal, but Cosenza knows she can throw three for strikes in any count, including a rise ball that induces plenty of missed contact from opposing hitters.

With plenty of experience against elite competition in Orange County – Orange Lutheran, Los Alamitos, Mater Dei and Mission Viejo to name a few – Parrish is ready for anything the South Coast League has to offer.

Her competitive fire comes from family. Parrish’s father, Jeff Parrish, played baseball and ran cross country. Her mother, Keri Novotny, played soccer and ran track.

Growing up, Parrish dabbled in both soccer and softball, but when a choice had to be made, softball was an easy choice.

“I was pretty good at both, but I started getting into All-Stars with softball,” Parrish said. “I enjoyed pitching more than chasing the ball around a field.”

She joined a travel ball team five years ago, which allowed her to play year-round and get accustomed to the consistent feeling of competition with big summer tournaments like the Premier Girls Fastpitch tournament in Huntington Beach, among others.

That workload made her transition into high school softball easier. She played junior varsity as a freshman despite her abilities, but Cosenza said she accepted the role and earned team MVP honors.

When Russo was needed to fill a void in the infield heading into this season, Parrish was ready for her role as the team’s starting pitcher.

“It wasn’t so much about pressure. I knew the change was coming,” Parrish said. “I like it because I know I’m pitching in every game, but it is nice to have Carlee backing me up.”

The South Coast League is more balanced this year than it has been in years past and the Dolphins feel they have a shot at taking a playoff spot – and maybe even a league title – this season.

Parrish looks up to past pitchers in the league, like former Mission Viejo pitcher Taylor McQuillin, when it comes to her pitching style. The junior pitcher hopes to continue racking up the strikeouts.

Doing so against high-quality offenses like Capistrano Valley, Aliso Niguel and Mission Viejo may be tough, but toughness has been the focal point for Parrish since the end of her sophomore season.

It’s certainly rubbing off on her teammates.

“She’s a fluid athlete and she has a real talent for anything,” Cosenza said. “She just really has that ‘it’ factor.”

Contact the writer: 714-796-2247 or npercy@ocregister.com


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