NORMAN — Oklahoma has placed softball players on Team USA before, just never this many.
Friday, following a three-day camp at the Hall of Fame Stadium complex in Oklahoma City, the Amateur Softball Association of America (ASA) and USA Softball announced the 18-player squad that will comprise the U.S. senior national team.
For the second straight summer, Sooner pitcher, slugger and reigning collegiate player of the year Keilani Ricketts was named to the team. Even better for the Sooner Nation, she’ll be joined by two teammates.
A year ago, it was battery-mate Jessica Shults who joined Ricketts. This time around, it’s Lauren Chamberlain and Destinee Martinez.
Chamberlain, along with Ricketts, was one of three finalists for national player of the year honors.
She led the the national champion Sooners at the plate throughout the season and postseason, finishing her sophomore year with a historic collection of numbers: 30 home runs (in 61 games), a .458 batting average, a 1.113 slugging percentage, a .613 on-base percentage and 80 RBIs.
Martinez just completed a junior year in which she hit .347, scored 30 runs and stole nine bases. It was her 11th-inning triple that sparked OU’s rally to tie, and eventually, pass Tennessee in Game 1 of the WCWS championship series.
Ricketts, on a night off from the circle, drove in all four runs in OU’s national championship-clinching 4-0 victory over Tennessee. In the circle, she went 35-1 with a 1.23 earned run average, striking out 350 in 238 1/3 innings. She tossed 16 shutouts and an amazing six no-hitters.
In addition to the three Sooners, a native Oklahoman also made the team in University of Tulsa pitcher Aimee Creger. A Yukon native, who will be a senior with the Golden Hurricane next season, Creger is a two-time All-American coming off a season in which she went 25-7 with a 1.15 earned run average, striking out 286 in 200 1/3 innings.
The national team, skippered by South Florida coach Ken Eriksen, will have a busy summer, beginning with the World Cup of Softball in Oklahoma City July 11-14, a competition that will include the national teams of Japan, Australia, Canada and Puerto Rico, as well Team USA.
That will be followed by the Canadian Open Fast Pitch International Championship in Surrey, B.C., July 16-22. Then it’s the International Softball Federation’s Women’s World Championship Aug. 5-18 in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
It is the final competition in which softball’s recognized world champion is crowned. A year ago, Team USA had to settle for second place, losing to Japan, 2-1, in a gold medal game that went 10 innings.
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