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Wayne Cavadi | NCAA.com | May 8, 2021

Missouri Southern pitcher Zach Parish is DII baseball's new strikeout king

2021 DII college baseball power rankings and season preview

Zach Parish is the new DII baseball strikeout king. The Missouri Southern left-hander struck out his 474th career batter in the second inning of Game 1 during a doubleheader against Rogers State. That surpassed Wingate's Danny Lampley and left Parish second to none in the record books.

"I knew I was only three away to start the game," Parish told NCAA.com. "I just wanted to stay in the zone and let my defense work behind me. If I got just a few strikeouts here and there, I knew I could break it."

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Parish, nor the Lions, wasted little time. The southpaw picked up strikeout No. 472 in the top of the first before the Lions erupted for 11 runs in the bottom half of the inning. That allowed Parish to get comfortable and fire away with his fastball.

"I was just throwing fastballs," Parish said. "We had a game plan for the bottom of their lineup and all I had to do was execute and the rest is history."

That's a phrase that is sometimes overused, but in Parish's case it was fact. The rest was indeed, history, and after tacking on five more strikeouts before the end of his day, Parish sits alone atop the DII leaderboard — in fewer innings than the four pitchers right behind him.

Player Team Years Games IP K
Zach Parish* Northeastern State; Missouri Southern 2015-21 66 372 479
Danny Lampley Wingate 1995-98 63 391.2 473
Jay Smith Florida Southern 1970-73 59 412.2 471
Ben Ochoa La Verne 1969-72 80 507.0 455
Ken Kravec Ashland 1970-73  N/A N/A 450
Bill Gilbreth Abilene Christian 1966-69 40 314.2 445
Sam Militello Tampa 1988-90 58 377.2 440
John Caneira Eastern Conn. St. 1971-73 47 297.1 434

* = active

While Parish makes it look easy, it wasn't always that way. He began his career at Northeastern State and was a very different pitcher. In his two years with the River Hawks, Parish posted a 4.57 ERA over 153.2 innings with a 9.3 strikeout-per-nine rate. In his three years with the Lions, he's posted a 2.23 ERA in 218.2 inning with a flashy 13.2 strikeout-per-nine rate. The difference?

"Just having the confidence to throw my pitches in any count I need to," Parish said. "Being down 3-0 in a count and being able to throw my change up to keep everyone off guard helps a lot. I developed my slider a lot better and improved on my consistency to hit the strike zone."

Well, that and emulating Randy Johnson as a youngster. While Parish stands at just 6-foot-2, nearly one foot shorter than his childhood idol, he certainly has instilled fear into opposing hitters throughout his career. Looking back at his milestone strikeouts, it's interesting that No. 100 came with Northeastern State against the very same Missouri Southern team for which he is now the ace.

Strikeout Opponent Date
No. 100 Missouri Southern May 6, 2016 
No. 200 Missouri Western March 1, 2019
No. 300 Northwestern Oklahoma Jan. 31, 2020
No. 400 Central Oklahoma March 19, 2021
No. 474 Rogers State May 7, 2021

This summer, Parish will play the new MLB Draft League for the State College Spikes. A rare four-pitch college pitcher, Parish will have a chance to showcase himself in hopes of continuing his success at the next level. As the MIAA tournament looms, we know Parish will have at least one more start to cushion his record, but there is little doubt that the Lions are hoping they have him for a few more into June.

All records and stats courtesy of NCAA.org.

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