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Oklahoma softball: With NPF, OU seniors have playing options after this season

Keilani Ricketts, Jessica Shults, Michelle Gascoigne and Brianna Turang have been drafted by National Pro Fastpitch teams.
By Stephanie Kuzydym Published: April 4, 2013
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photo - USA Softball team members Jessica Shults and Keilani Ricketts, from left, pose for a photo during media day at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, Okla. Monday, June 25, 2012.  Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman Archives
USA Softball team members Jessica Shults and Keilani Ricketts, from left, pose for a photo during media day at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, Okla. Monday, June 25, 2012. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman Archives

After Team USA, Keilani said she might move to Japan to play. There's also the possibility of the Olympics, one of the sports that was withheld from the 2012 Summer Games.

“I'm still just trying to be optimistic about the Olympics since they won't vote about it until the end of summer,” she said. “That's why I want to continue to do USA.”

Softball remains off the Summer Olympics slate for the 2016 Games. It could potentially rejoin in 2020, yet it's now in the IOC battle with wrestling.

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Bandits. Diamonds. Racers. Pride.

That's the four-team NPF League. It's a summer league, like baseball's version of Cape Cod. The NPF plays 44 games. The average NPF player makes between $5,000 and $6,000 for the season, which runs from June through August, according to the league's official website.

At the end of that season, Brianna Turang will return to school. Despite finishing her degree in multidisciplinary studies, Turang will start on a new bachelor's degree next fall: nursing.

She said being drafted a moment she'd been dreaming about since she was little.

“My dad played professional baseball,” Turang said. “So I've kind of always looked up to him for that.”

Yet she knows she can't quite have the career he did because there aren't the same options. Turang will have to find a job after college softball.

With so many games during the summer and being in a new town, Turang said she will just enjoy her final months of NPF softball.

“Now I can kind of relax and not put so much pressure on myself but at the same time, that relieved pressure will probably help me do a little bit better,” Turang said. "I'll use (NPF) as a time to compete and continue playing the sport that I love.

“I don't want to look at it as something I'm getting paid to do. I love the game. If I didn't get paid, I would still play.”