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Oklahoma softball: How Keilani Ricketts developed her signature twist

When the pitcher arrived in Norman, her pitching motion made it easy to read her pitches. Coaches helped her make the change, and it's become so popular that it's inspired imitators.
BY STEPHANIE KUZYDYM Published: May 16, 2013
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photo - UNIVERSITY OF OKLAHOMA / OU / COLLEGE SOFTBALL: Oklahoma's Keilani Ricketts pitches against California during a Women's College World Series game at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, Friday, June 1, 2012.  Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman
UNIVERSITY OF OKLAHOMA / OU / COLLEGE SOFTBALL: Oklahoma's Keilani Ricketts pitches against California during a Women's College World Series game at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, Friday, June 1, 2012. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman

“I never thought I'd have that kind of effect on little kids,” Ricketts said. “It's just cool that people are watching me to that detail to get my form down.

“They have it down better than me sometimes.

“They start doing it in their little games and they have no idea why they're doing it, but I guess it will help later on in life.”

Now, anywhere Oklahoma goes, there are swarms of people who come to watch Ricketts pitch, who want to show her their moves, who want to talk to Oklahoma's phenom.

“I have to have people around her just to help her get through the ballpark,” Gasso said. “We have to keep bringing her along, otherwise we're sitting on the bus for 45 minutes waiting for her.

“It's rock star status.”

Ricketts used to be one of those who mimicked. A poster of Jennie Finch with her glove outstretched, her signature finish, was displayed on a poster in Ricketts' childhood bedroom.

“When I was staring to learn how to pitch, I would really try to think about and emphasize having the glove straight out like that,” she said. “That helped me explode off the mound.”

Years later, Ricketts is teaching the younger generation how to hide their grips and be a dominant pitcher — even if they don't realize it just yet.

“It's just like when you have young sons and they're watching Major League Baseball and they do all this wagging of their barrel stuff,” Gasso said. “It's the same thing. You see the best of the best do it and you want to be the best of the best.

“If you ask some of our players who they looked up to, they would still be naming off Derek Jeter and major league baseball players. But you ask little kids now and they're popping off all the female softball athletes' names.”

Lombardi agreed about the impact she's seen Ricketts and other softball players make on her son: “It's pretty cool,” she said, “a little boy learning the game from women.”