When his two youngest daughters, Stephanie and Keilani, were just starting to show their potential as pitchers, Jeff Ricketts would make sure they put in their work, no matter the rest of their schedule.
Even in the dark, the family would head to a park near their San Jose, Calif., home.
“We'd go out there with a kerosene lamp and I'd sit there and hold it and those two would pitch back and forth so they could get their work in,” Carol Ricketts said. “Keilani, when she was like 10, there were a lot of times when she said, ‘I hate this game, I don't want to play, please don't make me play.”
Friday, Keilani Ricketts was on the biggest stage yet of her softball career, pitching for Oklahoma against top-ranked California.
Carol Ricketts and daughters Samantha, a former All-American infielder at OU, and Stephanie, who just finished her senior season at Hawaii, were at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium on Friday night, where they watched Keilani strike out 16 in a 3-0 Sooners win.
Brother Richard, a former football player at the Air Force Academy who is stationed in Ohio, was on his way to Oklahoma City for the weekend, while Jeff is also working to make it to Oklahoma City for the rest of the tournament.
Jeff's determination at getting the girls to practice led to them falling in love with the sport.
“The second me and Keilani became pitchers, he would catch us every day,” Stephanie said. “It was easy at the beginning and then we both started throwing hard and wild and he would put up with broken bones and joints, knowing that it was going to pay off in the long run.