The No. 1 Oklahoma softball team showcased how strong its season has been by placing a nation’s best three players among the 10 finalists for the 2013 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year, the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) of America and USA Softball announced Wednesday.
Senior pitchers Keilani Ricketts and Michelle Gascoigne and sophomore infielder Lauren Chamberlain were all chosen for the award, which is considered the most prestigious honor in Division I women’s softball. The honor is designed to recognize outstanding athletic achievement by female collegiate softball players across the country.
The defending USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year, Ricketts is looking to become just the third player to take home multiple Player of the Year honors. This season, Ricketts is 25-1 with a 1.14 earned run average, which ranks fifth in the country. She has struck out 264 batters and walked just 42 in 172.0 innings of work. Along with her school record four no-hitters this year, Ricketts has thrown the second-most shutouts in the nation this year (14) and owns the seventh best strikeout ratio (10.7 per seven innings).
At the plate, Ricketts is hitting .389 with 11 home runs and 38 runs batted in. Her on-base percentage of .563 ranks eighth in the country while her walk rate of 0.94 per game sits seventh.
Gascoigne, who has emerged this season to provide a stellar 1-2 punch with Ricketts, owns the second-best ERA in the country at 0.95 and boasts a record of 16-3. Gascoigne has 181 strikeouts and 25 walks in 117.1 innings pitched. She ranks sixth nationally with a strikeout ratio of 10.8 per seven innings and is 10th with 4.0 hits allowed per seven innings.
Among her highlights this year include a career-high 16 strikeouts against UC Riverside (2/15), 12 strikeouts in a three-hit shutout of No. 14/19 Arizona (2/21) and 10 strikeouts in a three-hit shutout of No. 18/16 Washington (2/16). In addition, Gascoigne came on in relief to get the save at No. 6/7 Texas on April 21 to give OU control of the Big 12 title race.
Chamberlain staked her claim as one of the best hitters last year as a freshman and hasn’t let up in her sophomore campaign. She ranks second in the country in runs per games (1.31) and slugging percentage (1.015), third in home runs per game (0.46) and fourth in both on-base percentage (.586) and walks per game (1.00). In addition, Chamberlain leads the Sooners with a .423 batting average. Twice this season Chamberlain has homered in four straight games to set a school record.
The list will be narrowed down to three finalists on May 22, while the winner of the 2013 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Award will be revealed on May 28 prior to the start of the NCAA Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City.
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.