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

I didn't really take the sport as seriously until I got about 16 years old, but I just went out and had fun with my friends. I just loved being out here with all my close friends.

You're always singing all these little songs in the dugout, and you're out there with your friends in the dugout. I think that's the biggest thing, that I wasn't serious all the time.

At Oklahoma, I learned how competitive softball is. It just made me grow and mature as a softball athlete.

Coach (Patty) Gasso taught me how to handle tough situations. She made me a stronger athlete because she was there with me. She challenged me and challenged my throwing out there.

Coming out of high school, because I was the National Player of the Year in high school, it was a totally and completely different game because of the mental stuff. It used to be so much easier in high school. Having so many games and being the No. 1 pitcher for OU, I had to compete harder and compete to be better because there were so many good pitchers my freshman and sophomore years.

I just learned so much about myself my freshman and sophomore year, about who I was as a pitcher. I was able to become a tougher pitcher mentally and that helped me my past two years.

Yeah, my freshman year I felt like cracking from the pressure a lot. There was a lot of pressure and I put a lot of pressure on myself. I had a lot of meetings with Coach Gasso and Coach (Melyssa) Lombardi (OU's associate head coach) to help me go through it.

Looking back at it, it's so amazing to see how great our team was this year. Our team was just legit. And the way we won it was cool. It wasn't just one or two girls that won it. It was the bottom of our lineup getting the clutch hits. It was our No. 2 pitcher getting the shutout. Our team had so many different weapons. It's cool to be able to have that kind of season and it's kind of sad that I might never be on a team like that anymore. Well, actually, I'll never be on another team like that.

Pitching is a fun game. When I don't put pressure on myself, it's just kind of a fun game to have pitching to certain batters. When I have my pitches working I'm like, “Oh, OK, let me try this one against them.”

When people say good job or people high-five me after I strike out, it's like, “No. I just struck out. That's not a good job.”

I probably shouldn't be telling the paper that.

Having pressure on yourself, it never turns out good in the long run.

I just told myself someone else could be out working more than me. I wanted to work harder than anyone else and I wanted to have better pitches than anyone else.

Trust your teammates as well. It's a team game and you can't win the game by yourself.


by Jacob Unruh
Reporter
Jacob Unruh is a graduate of Northeastern State University. He was born in Cherokee and raised near Vera where he attended Caney Valley High School.During his tenure at NSU, Unruh wrote for The Northeastern (NSU's student newspaper), the...
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