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July 10, 2013

OU’s Martinez joins Team USA softball for World Cup run

OKLAHOMA CITY — Destinee Martinez was never the biggest name on Oklahoma’s historic national title team last season. Keilani Ricketts and Lauren Chamberlain drew most of the headlines. But as a junior outfielder, she was a vital part of the Sooners’ squad, consistently making spectacular plays in center field while being a constant presence at the plate.

Now, that quiet, hard work has paid off for Martinez with a berth on Team USA, which will kick off its summer schedule beginning with a 7 p.m. showdown on Thursday against Canada in the World Cup of Softball at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium.

Again, she won’t be the biggest name on the field, with Player of the Year finalists Chamberlain and Raven Chavanne on the team. But that’s not a problem for Martinez.

“I understand my role,” said Martinez, a slap hitter who batted .347 last season for OU last season. “I don’t know what’s going to happen with this team, but when games start I’ll understand what I need to do. Like at OU, I’ll try to get on base for when the big hitters come up.”

While Martinez is low-key about her contributions, Ken Eriksen, her coach on Team USA and the head coach at South Florida, isn’t.

“Destinee is a phenomenal athlete and a phenomenal person,” he said. “She’s got an open mind to learning, and that’s important.”

Another person familiar with Martinez said the same. Chamberlain, who has spent the month since the end of the 2013 season living in Norman and working out with Martinez, said it’s “unreal” to get to play on the national team alongside her Sooner teammate.

“It’s cool to go through this experience, especially with Destinee,” Chamberlain said. “We played together on the junior team, and it’s exciting to be here together too.”

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