Sue Enquist rattled off the shortlist of pitchers who she considers the best in college softball history.
Lisa Fernandez, Jennie Finch and Debbie Doom topped her list.
“Keilani Ricketts is right there,” the former UCLA coach said of the Oklahoma ace. “She's right there.”
After dominating throughout the Women's College World Series, it's easy to see how she is in the conversation for greatest ever in college softball. She finished the season 35-1 with a 1.23 ERA and 350 strikeouts in 238 1/3 innings.
What puts Ricketts among the greats?
Enquist starts with her stature. At 6-foot-2, Ricketts intimidates hitters as she stands in the circle, then intimidates them more when she fires pitches as fast as 70 mph. But she doesn't just throw hard. She has great movement on her pitches.
Then, there are the intangibles.
“When you have someone that has what I call authentic calm, it's like ... a whole other player on the field when calm resonates,” said Enquist, who coached Fernandez (93-7, 0.22 ERA career totals) and Doom (952 strikeouts, 0.29 ERA career totals) at UCLA. “I see that in her cadence when she's pitching.
“I really enjoy watching her play.”
Ditto for Mike Candrea.
The coach at Arizona, where Finch posted a 119-16 record and once had a 60-game winning streak, is impressed with how Ricketts matured every year.
“You see someone that has great physical tools but also has superb mentality on the mound,” he said. “It kind of bleeds to everyone else. When you watch her work, you can see her confidence is overflowing to everyone else.”
Candrea's shortlist of great pitchers in the college game is similar to Enquist's, and he, too, believes Ricketts belongs in the conversation among the all-time greats.
“I kind of look at her right now like a woman playing with the girls,” he said. “She's just got all aspects going.”
By Jenni Carlson