By Jason Elmquist
STILLWATER, Okla. —
It has been nearly a year since Parker Zimmerman left his last mark as catcher for the Stillwater High baseball team — hitting a home run off Ty Hensley, who was drafted in the first round of the MLB Draft, in SHS’s Class 6A state tournament loss to Edmond Santa Fe.
Tuesday, Zimmerman was back in Stillwater to play baseball again — this time as a freshman for the Wichita State baseball squad, starting his 17th game for the Shockers.
“It was pretty cool. I haven’t been home since Christmas break,” said Zimmerman, who started in his eighth-straight game for the Shockers. “Growing up here, you always watch games here, so it was great to be able to come back and play here.”
The former Pioneer came into the contest hitting .255 in 47 plate appearances in 19 games with four RBIs and a home run — which he hit nearly two weeks ago against Bradley in Missouri Valley Conference action.
And while he’s come a long way since his first start, getting to start in front of his hometown crowd made Zimmerman a little jittery.
“It was different feeling. This one almost felt a little more like a home game just because of the people,” the WSU catcher said.
In Tuesday’s game, Zimmerman went 0-for-4 with a pair of fly outs, a strikeout and a four-pitch walk in Wichita State’s three-run sixth inning.
Zimmerman had his own cheering section during the game, with several OSU fans who are friends of the Zimmermans surrounding the Wichita State freshman’s parents, Pat and Susan. While his parents have tried their best to make trips to Wichita, Kan., for home games, they said it was nice to see their son play back home.
“It was really cool. It’s just a special night to see him out there at a place where (my wife and I) both graduated from and being able to start especially, too,” Pat Zimmerman said.
Zimmerman wasn’t the only SHS alum in the lineup for Tuesday’s game. His former high school teammate Corey Hassel served as the designated hitter for OSU. Hassel led off a Oklahoma State’s big three-run third inning with a single up the middle — a moment which meant a lot for friends and family of the former Stillwater athletes.
“That was pretty awesome. That was really awesome seeing the two of them together,” Pat Zimmerman said. “Then you’re kind of wondering if they said anything to each other.”
“Before the game we talked, so whenever he was about to step into the box I looked at him and you can usually tell when you can say something or not, but he looked pretty zoned in so I didn’t say anything,” Parker said.
While the overnight rains didn’t effect the college contest, it did prevent SHS from playing its home game against No. 1 Owasso. That, in turn, allowed several Pioneer players to watch their old teammates out on the field at Allie P. Reynolds, as well as Stillwater coach Tony Holt.
“You’ve had guys before, like the big names everybody knows, but we’ve had a lot of young men come through Stillwater that have been able to play at a high level at Division I baseball and even on to the professional level,” Holt said. “The kids know it can be done and they understand that we have a lot of tradition here at Stillwater High School and it started a long time ago. It’s good baseball town, with good baseball tradition.”
As for his last big moment at Stillwater High, Zimmerman doesn’t think much about it — though a smile came to his face when reminded of it.
“I don’t think back too much, it was pretty cool. But I’m now trying to make those kinds of moments happen now at Wichita State,” Zimmerman said.