From her untouchable pitching to her destructive hitting, Keilani Ricketts is like a softball version of Babe Ruth.
Even on a night when she didn't pitch and the ball was put in the hands of Michelle Gascoigne, the conversation still revolved around Ricketts, the two-time National Player of the Year.
“She is one of the greatest of all time in this sport,” Oklahoma coach Patty Gasso said. “This kid has been living with that for a while, and it's been wearing on her.”
Then Gasso looked down the row of her players, past the No. 1 hitter who mashed 30 home runs this season, past the No. 2 pitcher who garnered a 0.92 ERA and at her star, her pride and joy. “I think you can now say you are.”
Some Tennessee fans were offended by the site of Ricketts in the dugout instead of in the pitcher's circle.
How dare Oklahoma pitch this No. 2. Give us your best. Give us Keilani Ricketts
Oklahoma's best beat the Vols with her bat, sending all four RBIs across the plate. After the trophy ceremony, Ricketts' family and boyfriend were allowed on the field while people such as third baseman Shelby Pendley's aunt and uncle were trying to talk their way on. As her teammates ran from one person to the next taking photos, a small cluster of teammates gathered to ask Ricketts for a photo.
The smile she had all week at the WCWS never once faded.
Exactly two hours after the final pitch crossed home plate and Oklahoma dogpiled to celebrate winning the national title, the Sooners' superstar stood on the field.
Little girls arms dangled over the first base-line wall with softballs and T-shirts. A Sharpie was in an Oklahoma player's left hand.
Keilani Ricketts had kept her word.