Collected wisdom: OU pitcher Keilani Ricketts learned to relax

Time at OU made Ricketts learn how competitive softball is.
by Stephanie Kuzydym Modified: June 22, 2013 at 8:49 pm •  Published: June 22, 2013
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photo - OU / UNIVERSITY OF OKLAHOMA / COLLEGE SOFTBALL / CELEBRATION: Oklahoma's Keilani Ricketts celebrates the Sooners' win over Washington during Women's College World Series softball game at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, Sunday, June, 2, 2013. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman
OU / UNIVERSITY OF OKLAHOMA / COLLEGE SOFTBALL / CELEBRATION: Oklahoma's Keilani Ricketts celebrates the Sooners' win over Washington during Women's College World Series softball game at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, Sunday, June, 2, 2013. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman

Former OU softball pitcher

Age: 21

Residence: Norman

Growing up, Oklahoma's greatest pitcher, who is also one of softball's two-time National Player of the Year award winners, loved SpongeBob SquarePants.

Keilani Ricketts was so enthralled with the cartoon she used the word “obsessed” twice when talking about it.

“I had all these posters on my wall and all these different SpongeBob pillows,” she said.

The cartoon posters hung on her wall next to a poster of her other obsession: softball. Former Arizona star pitcher Jennie Finch was outstretched in her famous throwing motion on that poster.

While the Finch poster may have pushed Ricketts to become a better, tougher softball pitcher, it was a yellow cartoon sponge that got her to relax. And this year, while winning the NCAA championship, Ricketts learned that relaxing makes all the difference.

I just try to be better than anyone else. I've just always told myself that.

I'm the youngest of four, so I grew up in a really athletic family. Played basketball, softball, I swam, played volleyball. I was just always brought along to watch my older siblings play sports.

Looking up to them, I just became a competitive person and I wanted to be like them.

My parents saw my potential in softball as a pitcher, so they were kind of pushing me that way.

Never quit anything I started. There would be times that basketball and softball were tough, but my parents wouldn't let me quit at all. And looking back I just really thank them for that, now I have that kind of mentality.

I feel like I was the athletic kid in my class. Always busy doing sports. I was in girl scouts, but I was always missing stuff because of sports.

The weather wasn't as drastic in California as it is out here. We had winter and it was a little chilly and I thought that was winter, until I came out here and experienced winter with the snow and wind and ice.

Softball is really competitive out there because we play all year round. We're always competing with fall ball and practice in the winter and then spring and high school ball and then travel ball in the summer. We were always with the team.

My mom is Samoan. In their culture you respect your elders very much and you do a lot of chores, clean a lot.

I love Samoan pancakes. They're awesome. It's like this fried ball. It's really fried and crispy.

We really got close to our culture two years ago. Me and my sister got the chance to do a softball clinic in Samoa. That was really cool to be able to learn a lot more the kind of traditions they have and the way the kids are raised there.

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by Stephanie Kuzydym
Reporter
Stephanie Kuzydym learned at a young age that life is a game of inches. That's just one reason why she loves football. Kuzydym joined The Oklahoman in July 2012. Before arriving in the state, Kuzydym was an intern for the sports departments at...
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