Oklahoma senior pitcher Keilani Ricketts has repeated as the 2013 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year, the Amateur Softball Association and USA Softball announced Tuesday night at the opening banquet for the Women's College World Series.
"It's definitely an honor to win the award with the girls I was going against, who have had amazing seasons so far," Ricketts said. "I know that there's no way I'd be able to do this without the season that my team has had and without the support my coaches and teammates have given me this year."
The defending USA Player of the Year, Ricketts joins Texas' Cat Osterman, a three-time winner, and Washington's Danielle Lawrie, a two-time winner, as the only players to be multi-time winners of the award, which is considered the most prestigious honor in Division I women's collegiate softball and is designed to recognize outstanding athletic achievement by female collegiate softball players across the country.
"It's really surreal to be in that category," Ricketts said. "In my eyes, those girls are legends and players I've looked up to in my career, so to be up there with them is definitely an honor."
Ricketts currently ranks second in the country with 16 shutouts, seventh with 311 strikeouts and eighth with a 1.22 ERA. The lefthander holds a 31-1 record on the year and helped the Sooners to their 10th Big 12 Conference Championship and their eighth appearance in the Women's College World Series.
"I'm really happy for Keilani. She has worked really hard throughout this season," Oklahoma Head Coach Patty Gasso said. "I'm also proud of Coach [Melyssa] Lombardi and Coach [Tripp] MacKay, our assistant coaches, who have both worked really diligently to help Keilani throughout the season.
"It's hard when you have expectations on you so heavily coming into a season and she has handled it very well. She's very deserving of this award as were all of the finalists."
The 2013 Big 12 Conference Pitcher of the Year, Ricketts' 1,566 career strikeouts currently rank 11th in Division I history and second in conference annals. This season she has thrown five no-hitters, while from the plate, she holds a .375 batting average, .706 slugging percentage and has recorded 13 home runs to go with 54 runs batted in.
In addition to being the two-time USA Player of the Year, Ricketts has also been recognized as the 2012 Honda Softball Player of the Year, is a three-time All-American and four-time All-Big 12 first team honoree.
The other two finalists for the award were Ricketts' teammate, sophomore infielder Lauren Chamberlain, and Tennessee's Raven Chavanne.
The USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award is voted on by coaching representatives from 11 Division I Conferences in the 15 ASA Regions, members of the media who consistently cover Division I Softball across the country and previous Player of the Year recipients.
Ricketts and the top-seeded Sooners open play at the World Series on Thursday night against No. 8 seed Michigan at 8:30 p.m. CT.