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June 8, 2014

Team USA and USA’s best player still not on same page

NORMAN — I started thinking about writing something like this a few days ago when USA Softball announced the 25 players it was inviting to its selection camp because as I scanned the names on the list I had this vague idea I might see a shocker of a name.

Keilani Ricketts.

But it wasn’t there.

As you may recall, she was named to Team USA for a third summer following her leading Oklahoma to the 2014 national championship, only to not be part of the team by the time the Americans opened play at the World Cup of Softball.

Ricketts said she wanted to play the summer with the national team before deciding if she would sign a long-term contract, that went beyond the diamond, that would have made her the face of the game, with the American Softball Association. She said she was not given the option of doing exactly that.

The ASA and USA Softball’s position was never entirely clear. 

National team coach Ken Eriksen said he’d asked every team member for a two-year commitment because 2014 was a World Championship year.

USA Softball national team director Ronnie Isham said Ricketts had never asked to separate the ASA contract talks and her summer commitment to Team USA.

In a column I wrote following the first day of the last summer’s World Cup of Softball, I decided that we might be looking at nothing more than a colossal misunderstanding.

If possible, that misunderstanding seems even more colossal now.

Currently, Ricketts is a member of the USSSA Pride, one of the four teams in National Pro Fastpitch, for which she signed a three-year contract on July 16 of last year.

Who knows, in its entirety, what that contract entails. Probably, it means Ricketts couldn’t try to come back to Team USA even if she wanted.

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