The Parlich sisters: A story of success in maroon and gold

Sam Parlich won a national title with ASU in 2011, but over the weekend, there was another Parlich in maroon and gold at Farrington Stadium

The last time the ASU softball program held up a national championship trophy was in 2011.

That 2011 team finished its campaign with a record of 60-6, and it had a roster full of lethal talent, including a sophomore second baseman who started all 66 games, by the name of Sam Parlich.

Parlich concluded her ASU career in 2013, encapsulating a career .294 batting average while being a mainstay up the middle of the field alongside legendary ASU shortstop Katelyn Boyd

Former ASU Softball player Sam Parlich at bat during a Sun Devil victory over Creighton in Tempe, Arizona, in March 2011.

While the curtain may have closed on her ASU career, there was still a Parlich playing softball in Farrington Stadium this past weekend as ASU hosted Minnesota.

Danielle Parlich is a senior third baseman for the Minnesota Golden Gophers, and she is the younger sister to Sam. The two siblings both grew up in Arizona, playing high school softball at Basha High School, and this weekend served as a homecoming for the senior infielder and offered her the opportunity to play at a stadium that she was very familiar with.

“I have been to this stadium a lot,” Danielle said after Minnesota’s third game with ASU on Sunday. “Before she (Sam) even came here, we came to watch a lot of games.”

During Sam’s career as a Sun Devil, she reached the pinnacle of college softball, advancing to play in the Women’s College World Series three times.

Danielle never made it to Oklahoma City to watch her sister due to her own personal softball commitments, but the nationally televised games certainly created some lasting memories.

“It always pushed me to want to be just as good as her, and to push me to do my best. That was a good example to follow, and I am proud of her and how well she did, so it made me want to be just as good,” Danielle said. “I watched every single game on TV … she hit a home run one of the years (in OKC), and that was really exciting to cheer for her.”

In addition to the family homecoming, Danielle was in the presence of a former teammate in the ASU dugout.

ASU assistant coach and Phoenix native Katie Richardson graduated from Minnesota in 2015, after a stellar career in Minneapolis in which she had a career .388 batting average while receiving numerous accolades both on and off the field.

With the Golden Gopher alum going up against her former team, Richardson was happy to pick up a series sweep, but she only wishes the best for a program that has aspirations to repeat its success from last season.

“It’s bittersweet. I want them to do well in every series except for the one that we played (against them),” Richardson said. “It was good, and it was fun, but it was kind of nerve-racking because you want them (Minnesota) to do well … It’s always a good day when you get to see former Gophers and people that are there now.”

Richardson was a senior when Danielle was a freshman in the Minnesota program.

Together, the two Arizona softball stars were a part of a 2015 team at Minnesota that went 49-11 under former Minnesota and current Stanford head coach Jessica Allister.

“Even being a senior, and she was a freshman, you can always learn from different players,” Richardson said. “It’s fun to see her grow and get better and better every single year. I always wish the best for her, and we are both from Arizona and kind of took that path to Minnesota and had good experiences … I think you can always learn something from everybody, and (Danielle) has a lot to offer this game, and she plays it the right way.”

Following ASU’s sweep of Minnesota over the weekend, both teams will go their respective ways in conference play, but for Danielle and Richardson, the weekend was full of reunions.

With respect for both sides and a lot of talent, the two programs could even meet somewhere down the line come post-season play.

“They always say you want to leave a program better than you found it, and I think that’s what we did, and they are doing great right now," Richardson said. "It’s good to see that Minnesota has a name for itself, and that is kind of what we, as my first class, went there to do. Now they (Minnesota) are very well known in the softball community, and they compete at the highest level every year.”

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