Sooners Dominate Softball’s All-Big 12 Conference Selections

Sooners Dominate Softball’s All-Big 12 Conference Selections

No.1 ranked Oklahoma has been dominant not only on the softball field but equally as well off the field, and especially when it comes to postseason honors. The recently announced Big 12 Conference softball postseason honors had no less than 11 Sooners named, including pitcher Keilani Ricketts, who was selected by a vote of the coaches as the Pitcher of the Year. Teammate Shelby Pendley, who transferred from Arizona, was selected as Player of the Year. As expected, OU head coach Patty Gasso was named Coach of the Year for the second year in a row. It’s just the second time since 2002 that one team has win all three awards. In addition, the Sooners had five players named on the All-Big 12 First team, two players on the All-Big 12 Second Team and four on the first All-Big 12 Defensive Team.

Gasso led the Sooners to their second straight conference title with a 15-2 record, the third-best league winning percentage in school history. It’s the Big 12 record sixth Coach of the Year honor in Gasso’s time at OU, including her third award in the last six years.

The defending Big 12 Player of the Year, Ricketts finished undefeated in conference play with a 10-0 record and tied for the league lead with four shutouts. Her earned run average in league play was 1.26 and she threw 97 strikeouts in just 66.2 innings. She threw five no-hitters on the season, a school record, with three of them coming against Big 12 foes Texas Tech, Iowa State and Oklahoma State. Ricketts becomes the second Sooner to be Pitcher of the Year, joining Laura Eckermann, who shared honors in 2007. Ricketts also became a four-time All-Big 12 First-Team honoree and was chosen to the All-Defensive Team.

Pendley becomes the eighth player in OU history to earn Player of the Year honors. The sophomore, who was a three-time Player of the Week this season, led the league in home runs (10), RBI (30), total bases (59) and slugging percentage (1.157). She becomes the first sophomore to win the honor since former Sooner Kelli Braitsch was recognized in 2001 and follows Ricketts as consecutive Sooners to win the award.

Joining Ricketts and Pendley on the All-Big 12 First Team were senior outfielder Brianna Turang, junior outfielder Destinee Martinez and sophomore infielder Lauren Chamberlain. Senior pitcher Michelle Gascoigne and sophomore Georgia Casey were placed on the second team, while Ricketts, Turang, Casey and senior catcher Jessica Shults were honored for the All-Big 12 Defensive Team.

For Turang, who led the conference with a .500 batting average, it’s the first conference honor of her career. She also finished second in the league with a .543 on-base percentage. For Martinez, who finished second to Turang with a .440 average, it’s her third award after being first-team in 2011 and second team a year ago. Her .462 on-base percentage ranked eighth in the league, while her hit total of 22 was tied for third.

The defending Big 12 Freshman of the Year, Chamberlain tied for the conference lead with 22 runs scored, was second to Pendley in home runs with nine, RBI with 24, total bases with 53 and slugging percentage with 1.019. She also finished third in the conference with a .538 OBP and was fourth with a .423 average and 13 walks. It’s the second straight year she’s been a first-team honoree.

Senior pitcher Michelle Gascoigne and sophomore infielder Georgia Casey were each named to the All-Big 12 Second Team.  One of 10 finalists for USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year, Gascoigne was 4-2 in the league with a 1.50 ERA. She struck out 38 and walked 13 in 37.1 innings of work. It’s the first time she’s been named to an All-Big 12 team. Casey, who earned first-team honors last year, hit .364 with 14 runs scored, six doubles and a home run. She drove in 11 runs, got on base at a .444 clip and slugged .527. 
Shults, who has been instrumental in the pitching success of Ricketts and Gascoigne, was run on only eight times in league play, while she threw out half of those that attempted to steal on her.

All-Big 12 teams and postseason honors are selected in a vote by the league’s head coaches, who are not allowed to vote for their own players. The No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA tournament, the Sooners host Marist in a regional game on Friday at 7:30 at Marita Hynes Field at the OU Softball Complex.