Claremore Daily Progress

Sports Columnists

March 29, 2012

HORNING: Something special is going on here

OKLAHOMA CITY — Keilani Ricketts sounded casual about it.

She was signing her autographs for well wishers and fans beyond Hall of Fame Stadium’s left-field fence with her teammates.

She had just collected her 15th win of the season, a 4-0 one-hit shutout of Bedlam rival Oklahoma State; a game in which she saved her best for last, striking out the Cowgirl side in the seventh inning to lift her strikeout total to 10 for the game and 196 for the season over 1211⁄3 innings; and a game in which she shaved another 0.04 off her earned-run average, lowering it to the unheard of depth of 0.69.

Along the autograph line, it was no big deal, easy, maybe even expected. It just, you know, was.

“When I’m hitting my spots, it’s pretty good,” she said. “Change-up, curve and screwball.”

Simple and easy.

Only it isn’t.

Something profound is taking place with the Sooner pitcher.

A year ago, Ricketts’ left arm and left-handed bat embarrassed Arizona on the Wildcats’ super regional home field and sent the Sooners back to the Women’s College World Series for the first time since 2004.

So maybe that’s where the new Ricketts took root, during a huge postseason that flowed right into her spot on USA Softball’s senior national team. But there’s no getting around the numbers and the numbers do not flow the same way. Because, last season, Ricketts finished with a 1.48 earned run average. Now, it is less than half that. The difference is dramatic.

Only four of 24 Big 12 conference games have been played, so the competition is bound to become more difficult for the junior southpaw. But her progress is stunning.

One of the things about college softball at the highest level is great pitching isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Great college pitchers may not be a dime a dozen, but there are many nonetheless. Some, though, are better than great. Cat Osterman and Monica Abbott and Jennie Finch were better than great. Right now, Ricketts is, too.

Text Only
Sports Columnists
  • COLUMN: McDermott gets last shot to leave mark on the game

    You never know when a great basketball story is going to peak, so keep an eye out for Doug McDermott. If college basketball's power brokers get their way, you'll be seeing plenty of him over the next few weeks.

    March 18, 2014

  • COLUMN: Michael Sam bravely comes out. Now what?

    Michael Sam could've taken the - well, not the easy, but certainly the easier - way out by staying mum on his sexual orientation, at least until after the NFL draft.
    Instead, one of the nation's top college football players bravely decided to speak now, to tell the world he is gay at a time when NFL teams are grading the guys they'll be picking in a couple of months.

    February 10, 2014

  • COLUMN: Sherman wins the games, then loses his mind

    The bookies in Vegas reported a rare split picking the early favorite for the Super Bowl. At least there's no question about who's going to steal the show.
    That would be Seattle's supremely confident Richard Sherman, who's already staked a claim to being the NFL's most quotable cornerback since Deion Sanders. Fresh off making the game-saving play in the last minute of Sunday's NFC championship, Sherman gave America a taste of how juicy things could get over the next two weeks if his coach, Pete Carroll, doesn't clamp the equivalent of a ''Denver boot'' on the mouth of his All-Pro first.

    January 20, 2014

  • COLUMN: Petrino says he's changed; yeah, right

    Bobby Petrino insists he's a changed man.
    Not the scoundrel who secretly interviewed for someone else's coaching job without telling his bosses, who abandoned the Atlanta Falcons with three games left in the season, who wrecked his motorcycle with his mistress aboard and lied about the sordid affair as long as he could.
    We're supposed to believe he's not that guy anymore.
    Yeah, right.

    January 11, 2014

  • COLUMN: A nation grieves and the NFL plays on

    Americans grieved in front of their television sets on a brutally grim Sunday afternoon 50 years ago as a horse-drawn caisson took the body of President Kennedy from the White House to lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda.

    November 24, 2013

  • COLUMN: Fitting ending in cards for final BCS

    The Bowl Championship Series is in its death throes, and few are mourning its passing.
    Come next season, the path to the national championship will go through two playoff games, and a blue ribbon panel will pick the lucky participants. It's hardly a perfect system because invariably some worthy school will get left out, but it is a major step toward deciding the title mostly on the field instead of inside somebody's basement computer.

    November 6, 2013

  • COLUMN: Hard to imagine another chance for Tebow

    There was never any real reason to dislike Tim Tebow, who never pretended to be anything he wasn't. Blame him for the Tebowing craze, if you will, but even that was worth a few laughs in a league that doesn't always embrace fun.

    September 2, 2013

  • COLUMN: Time for baseball to really clean up act

    Of all those penalized in baseball's biggest doping scandal, at least Nelson Cruz had a good story to tell.
    No, his drink wasn't spiked with testosterone in a bar one night by a Texas Rangers fan desperate for a World Series win. That would be a bit hard to believe now, wouldn't it?

    August 6, 2013

  • COLUMN: Bruins stir OKC hockey memories

    Seeing the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup finals brings back some childhood memories going back to the days of the original Oklahoma City Blazers, who were a Bruins farm club from 1965-72.

    June 22, 2013

  • COLUMN: Perfect ending to OU's championship run

    Really, that’s about right.

    On the day Oklahoma coach Patty Gasso saves the nation’s best pitcher for a possible winner-take-all national championship game, the nation’s best pitcher’s back-up tosses a shutout and the nation’s best pitcher rips a three-run home run and drives in all four Sooner runs.

    June 5, 2013

Poll

Severe storm season is beginning. Do you have a storm readiness plan at home?

Yes
No
     View Results
Featured Ads
AP Video