Keilani Ricketts was just swinging.
She decided after a week of finals, a return to ASA Hall of Fame Stadium, where she hadn't been since a Game 3 loss in the College World Series finals, a Bedlam game and an umpire calling low strikes, she would just swing.
That's when, with a 1-2 count, Oklahoma's No. 1 pitcher hit the second grand slam of her career that propelled the top-ranked Sooners to a five-inning, 10-1 run-rule victory Friday over Oklahoma State.
“I was surprised that I actually hit it,” Ricketts said. “Then I saw (OSU pitcher) looking over the fence, and I was like, ‘Oh, wow. I actually hit that pretty well.'”
Ricketts said she worked on her hitting last week and felt like that slam was the payoff.
As she stepped on home plate, her teammates surrounded her and jumped up and down.
Ricketts' emotions were pulled around a bit last week. Between her last week as a senior at OU, graduation, wanting to get her last good days of college in and then knowing she would miss her commencement graduation ...
“She had some things that she wanted to do this week,” OU coach Patty Gasso said. “She's missing out on a lot of things; it felt like she was being rushed some today.”
It showed in the first inning when, with two outs, Ricketts allowed a triple and then an RBI single before striking out Oklahoma State's fifth batter.
“She did a good job of getting back in and refocusing,” Gasso said. “First inning was a little uncharacteristic of her. Sometimes she's got to understand and figure out the umpire's strike zone. Once she figures out that, she can kind of settle in.”
The senior said Friday she thought she pitched really strong “despite what happened with the triple and the other single.”
The Sooners face the Cowgirls on Saturday in Norman. Ricketts, along with fellow senior Brianna Turang, were supposed to walk in their commencement ceremonies, but since Saturday's noon start can't be moved due to broadcast obligations, the seniors were going to walk Friday night. When rain canceled the original matchup and it was moved to Friday, Ricketts and Turang were left with no commencement ceremony.
Instead, OU president David Boren invited the two star softball players to his office earlier this week.
“We took a picture with president Boren,” Ricketts said smiling.
On Saturday, Oklahoma's senior day, athletic director Joe Castiglione will have a mini presentation after the senior ceremony for the two graduating seniors. (Both Jessica Shults and Michelle Gascoigne are seniors but won't graduate this semester.)
“Whatever we can do with those two because they're special,” Gasso said. “Any student-athlete that can get this done in four years, it's a big deal. We're trying to make it as special as we can because the timing is tough.”