#1 Oklahoma Softball Preview

Oklahoma Sooners

Overall Rank: #1
Conference Rank: #1 Big 12
Oklahoma College Softball Top 44 Team Preview
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The Sooners fell short last year, losing to national champion Alabama. After winning the first game of the best-of-three series, the Sooners lost the next two games. Patty Gasso returns 13 letter winners from that team including three All-Americans and an outstanding transfer from the University of Arizona. The Sooners open their season February 8th in the Kajikawa Classic against Stanford.

2012: 54-10, 19-5
2012 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Patty Gasso
Field Players:
On paper this is the best OU team in the history of the program with three All-Americans and seven starters back. All-Americans include pitcher Keilani Ricketts, USA Softball Player of the Year, catcher Jessica Shults and first baseman Lauren Chamberlain. The Sooners lost one starter from last year and filling that position is shortstop Shelby Pendley, who was one of three Arizona Wildcats to play in every game last year. She hit 19 homers and batted .331, driving in 55 runs and had a slugging percentage of .703. The Sooners were one of the nation’s top power teams in 2012, hitting 102 homers and batting .316 and Pendley makes them even stronger. Shults was the 2012 Diamond Catcher of the Year and was outstanding in the clutch, hitting 20 homers (tied for 10th best nationally) and batting .378. She had a .755 slugging percentage and an on-base percentage of .463. Chamberlain is a sophomore and clearly one of the nation’s best hitters. She slugged a school and Big 12 record 30 homers, drove in 78 runs and had a .678 slugging percentage. Gasso, who has compiled an overall record of 1,032-338-3 (.753 winning percentage) and is 871-279-1 at OU (.757 winning percentage), is taking nothing for granted. “In 2001, after we won the national championship we had a lot of returners back. Nothing’s automatic. Nothing is given. Right now, I would imagine we’re one of the front runners.”

Ricketts and Michelle Gascoigne (16-1, 1.57 ERA) are one of the nation’s top pitching tandems as evidenced by the team ERA of 1.22, which was second among the NCAA Division One teams. Ricketts was second in the NCAA in ERA (1.08) plus she batted .400 and hit 17 homers. She ranked 19th in slugging percentage (.825) and 10th in on-base percentage (.553). She already is the school career strikeout leader (1,255) and is third in wins (98) and innings pitched (836). If she has as good a year as she did in 2012, she will be the all-time pitching leader for the Sooners.

Who to Watch:
Pendley could be the difference if the Sooners return to OKC to win the national title. She can play offense as well as defense, has good range and a strong arm. Pendley played fall ball at Arizona then decided to transfer. She said it was a “personal choice. I wanted something different. I just wasn’t happy. I loved my teammates, loved all of them. Got along with them great. Sometimes in life you have to make a decision that’s best for you.”

Final Projection:
This team is as good a team that will play college softball in 2013. It’s a veteran team that was disappointed because it didn’t win the title and you can bet the Sooners won’t forget what happened last year. “I don’t want to forget about it because we can use it as a tool to boost our determination,” said Ricketts in a newspaper interview on January 31 (Daily Oklahoman). This will be an exciting, fun team to watch and one that has the potential to go a long way in 2013.The Sooners only want to travel to OKC, less than 25 miles from their campus, and get revenge for what happened last year when a 13 minute rain delay turned everything around and the Sooners, leading 3-0, lost their momentum and ultimately the championship game, 5-4.

Projected Postseason: NCAA Softball Tournament

Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Destinez Martinez, OF, 215
Hits: Destinez Martinez, OF, 75
Home Runs: Lauren Chamberlain, 1B, 30
RBIs: Lauren Chamberlain, 1B, 78
Runs: Lauren Chamberlain, 1B, 68
Stolen Bases: Destinez Martinez, OF, 18

Wins: Keilani Ricketts, P, 37
Innings Pitched: Keilani Ricketts, P, 282.1
Strikeouts: Keilani Ricketts, P, 457
Saves: Keilani Ricketts, P, 2

Madness 2013 NPF Draft Rankings:
#1 Keilani Ricketts
#5 Jessica Shults

Madness 2013 Softball Recruit Rankings:
#75 Whitney Ellis
#98 Leslie Miller
#101 Erin Miller


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