The Norman Transcript

July 17, 2013

Ricketts signs first pro contract

By Corbin Hosler
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Keilani Ricketts will soon be back on the softball field, this time in the pros.

The four-time All-American and National Player of the Year a season ago at Oklahoma, Ricketts signed on Tuesday a three-year contract to play for the USSSA Pride of the National Pro Fastpitch league.

Ricketts, who also had a marketing offer from the national team, will make her pro debut at 1 p.m. Saturday against the New York/New Jersey Comets in a game that will be televised on ESPN2.

With the Pride, Ricketts will rejoin former teammate and catcher Jessica Shults, who signed with the Pride in June.

“Keilani Ricketts represents the best of the best of the class of 2013,” NPF commissioner Cheri Kempf said. “She, along with our other talented NPF rookies, represents the future of professional softball. I am beyond thrilled to have college’s most decorated player join the NPF and I am very much looking forward to seeing her continue to grow as an athlete as she competes with, and against, the world’s very best softball players.”

Sooners add talented

transfer:For the second season in a row, Oklahoma’s roster will be bolstered by a former All Pac-12 player.

Shelby Pendley transferred in a season ago from Arizona and help lead the Sooners to the national title. Now Kelsey Stevens, who was name to the All Pac-12 freshman team a year ago, will move to OU from Stanford.

Stevens, who will be a sophomore, went 15-7 and threw a team-high 163 strikeouts for the Cardinal last season. She threw 10 complete games, seven of which were shutouts, in 21 starts. She threw a perfect game against Virginia on Feb. 23 and her 2.99 ERA was among the best from freshmen last season.

She figures to play a big role in OU’s roster after the Sooners graduated their top two pitchers from a national-title team last season.

“We’ve watched Kelsey since she was in high school and were impressed with her skills,” OU coach Patty Gasso said. “She refined those skills at Stanford and was very tough against us when we faced her last season. We look forward to her joining our pitching staff. She will be a great addition and gives us experience in the circle, which we will need. We return a strong offense next season, and I believe that will help enable Kelsey to thrive and have great success with our program.”

Sooners travel to ESPYs: Just three days after facing Japan in the finals of the World Cup of Softball, Oklahoma junior Lauren Chamberlain will join coach Patty Gasso and former teammate Keilani Ricketts at ESPN’s ESPY awards in Los Angeles.

The trio led the Sooners to a historic national-title run last season, and that team is a contender in the category of “best team” at the show. The ceremony will be broadcast live on ESPN tonight, with coverage beginning at 8 p.m.

The awards are fan-voted, and votes can be made at ESPYS.com or, once the show begins, on Twitter using the hashtag EESPYSBestTeam and the team name.

U.S. team travels to

Canada: After finishing second in last week’s World Cup of Softball, the U.S. team is back at it, participating in the Canadian Open fastpitch tournament this week.

The Americans will play five round-robin games before being seeded for the medal rounds. That includes contests against World Cup competitors Canada, Australia and Japan, the only team to defeat the U.S. last week.

Corbin Hosler

Follow me @Chosler88

chosler@normantranscript.com