WCWS: Keilani Ricketts' finest hour

COMMENTARY — OU's star pitcher wasn't in the circle for Tuesday night's championship victory. She helped with her bat, and by going along with the plan to start Michelle Gascoigne.
by Berry Tramel Published: June 4, 2013

Here's why Gasso's move seemed dubious. Do you want Tennessee to have to beat the nation's best pitcher once or twice to win the World Series? The first is possible. The second a longshot.

But maybe such a bold move by Gasso is made easier knowing the character of your players. Maybe knowing Ricketts wouldn't get her dobber down, and knowing that her bat would remain lethal, made the decision more resolute.

“Keilani threw 188 pitches last night, and that had a lot to do with it,” Gasso said. “But Michelle has been such a huge part of getting our team to this point. To give her this opportunity was a big moment for her, and what I love is that Keilani was right there with it saying, ‘Yeah, go ahead. Let's do this and share the moment together.'

“Keilani has had a ton of big moments, and the fact that she was wanting to share this with Michelle, I think probably helped Michelle get on the mound and say, ‘I've got this. Let me do this for us.' And, man, what a phenomenal game that Michelle threw.”

The tension of the 12-inning Monday night classic was nowhere to be found, after Ricketts' home run. She fist-pumped maybe 20 feet from home plate, knowing that the ball was gone and three-run security had arrived.

And when the seventh inning came, and the final out of the season was upon us, Ricketts was in the dugout. Not where you expect to find the nation's best pitcher.

“Wasn't too much of a strange feeling,” Ricketts said.

And when Gascoigne slipped strike three past Tennessee's Lexi Overstreet to give OU its first NCAA softball championship in 13 years, it was Gascoigne who was on the receiving end of the obligatory dogpile.

Catcher Jessica Shults and third baseman Shelby Pendley were the first to embrace Gascoigne. But Ricketts, sprinting from the dugout, was not far behind in what ranked as her second-finest moment.

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at btramel@opubco.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.

by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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