Apparently angry over calls not going their way, a fastpitch traveling softball team organized a play where the catcher would duck out of the way so that a pitcher’s pitch would intentionally hit the umpire in the face. The umpire realized the play was done intentionally and immediately ejected the coach, catcher and pitcher, and the game was called.
Keilani Ricketts and Lauren Chamberlain deserve your attention. The two are arguably the best players in college softball, and they play on the same team. Yes, they are huge reasons why Oklahoma is poised to win the Women’s College World Series and why the team nearly won it all last year.
Ricketts (pictured right) is a senior from San Jose, Calif., who is not only one of the best pitchers in the country, but also one of the top power hitters. Ricketts entered the WCWS 129-35 with a 1.25 ERA for her career. She has struck out 1,566 batters in 1,043.1 career innings. She is left handed, which gives hitters a different look than what they are used to. She is an imposing figure at 6-foot-2, and she pitches regularly in the low-70s, which is just about as fast as it gets in college softball. But that’s not all the two-time USA College Softball Player of the Year has going for her.
Ricketts blosomed as a hitter in the last two seasons. She batted .395 with 13 doubles and 17 home runs last season. She followed that up by batting .383 with 14 home runs this season. Ricketts has posted a career 1.171 OPS and displayed excellent bat control by walking 168 times compared to just 133 strikeouts.
Ricketts comes from an athletic family.
The Women’s College World Series is entering the super regional stage, meaning there are only 16 schools remaining in the tournament. LBS had the chance to speak with former national champion Jennie Finch last week before the tournament began. Finch, a two-time gold medalist, is currently an Advisory Board member for the Capital One Cup, which awards a combined $400,000 in scholarships to the schools that win the competition.
I talked to Finch about this year’s tournament, whether softball will make it back into the Olympics, and about her personal life. Yes, Finch is living the country life and even threw a “Duck Dynasty” party recently. More on that later.
I asked Finch what she thought of No. 1 Oklahoma, which lost last year in the championship to Alabama.
“I expect to see them there at the end,” said Finch. “They have three of their players in the top-10 finalists for Player of the Year. It’s pretty amazing to have one person on that list, let alone three. It shows you the depth of talent of their program.”
“They’re playing with a little chip on their shoulder having come up short last year,” Finch said of Oklahoma. “So they have the pitching and the incredible offense to go along with it.”
Finch believes there is a strong competitive balance in the sport, which is different from how things were in the past.