NORMAN — The USA Softball Women’s National Team was dealt a blow last week when it found out the best college player in the nation would not be part of the team this year as it competes in the World Cup of Softball VIII in Oklahoma City this week.
According to the National Team spokesman Ronnie Isham, Oklahoma hurler Keilani Ricketts called him July 3 to inform him she was no longer part of Team USA. The World Cup begins play Thursday at Hall of Fame Stadium.
“She had a business decision to make,” Isham said, “and that business decision did not include Team USA.”
When asked what that business decision was, Isham responded that he knew what it might be, but it was confidential. Isham did say Ricketts’ decision caught the USA Softball program off guard.
Ricketts was unable to be reached for comment. Neither USA Softball or the University of Oklahoma made an official or public statement regarding Ricketts’ absence.
Ricketts spent each of the last two summers with the National Team, helping the squad win the 2012 World Cup of Softball and also take silver at the 2012 ISF XIII Women’s World Fastpitch Championship and Canadian Open International Championship.
Ricketts had earned her third consecutive spot on the National Team June 14 when she and Oklahoma teammates Lauren Chamberlain and Destinee Martinez were selected to the 18-player squad after a three-day selection camp.
As late as June 24, when Ricketts walked away with the 2013 Honda Cup, which is given to the nation’s top female collegiate athlete by the Collegiate Women’s Sports Awards, Oklahoma issued press releases stating she would be part of the Team USA.
The Amateur Softball Association (ASA) of America and USA Softball have removed Ricketts’ photo from their online roster.
“She decided about a week ago she no longer wanted to play,” said Codi Warren of the Amateur Softball Association. “That sucks for us, we are pulling up a girl from junior national to take her spot, Sheridan Hawkins from Oregon.”
Regardless of how talented Hawkins is, Team USA will have a tough time filling Ricketts’ shoes. The two-time USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year was 35-1 this season with a 1.23 earned run average and 350 strikeouts in 238.1 innings pitched at OU. She posted the second most shutouts in the nation this year with 16 and ranked third in wins (35), fifth in hits allowed per seven innings (3.61), sixth in total strikeouts (350) and eighth in both ERA (1.23) and strikeouts per seven innings (10.3).
Additionally, Ricketts hit .379 at the plate with 15 home runs and 60 runs batted in. She slugged .725, got on base at a .534 clip and was a perfect 9-9 on stolen bases. Ricketts helped lead the Oklahoma softball team to the 2013 National Championship, the second in program history. In the title-clinching win, she drove in all four runs in a 4-0 victory over Tennessee, including a three-run home run.