Oklahoma's Keilani Ricketts and Jessica Shults were named among the 10 finalists for the Senior CLASS Award, an honor that recognizes a student-athlete's contributions both on and off the field. Oklahoma is the only school to have more than one finalist.
To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as a NCAA Division I senior student-athlete and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence – community, classroom, character and competition.
A left-handed pitcher, Ricketts is the defending USA Softball National Player of the Year and has been a three-time Big 12 Pitcher of the Week honoree in 2013. Ricketts, who opened the season with back-to-back no-hitters against No. 21 Stanford and No. 5 Oregon, is 18-1 on the season with a 1.04 earned run average. She has struck out 190 batters and walked just 25 in 128.1 innings this year.
In an 8-0 win over Baylor on Sunday, Ricketts set the school record by earning the 116th win of her career. She already owns the program marks in shutouts, complete games, innings pitched, strikeouts and games started.
Along with her teammates, Ricketts has volunteered at area non-profit agencies including volunteering at Mission Norman, a local food pantry. She has also coordinated equipment drives for those in need, including athletes in American Samoa.
In the classroom, Ricketts has been selected to the Big 12 Commissioner's Honor Roll three times and is a three-time Sooner Scholar.
Shults, a three-time All-American catcher, is batting .346 on the season with five home runs and 34 runs batted in. The team captain, she boasts a .558 slugging percentage and .457 on-base percentage. Earlier this season, Shults set the school and Big 12 home-run record and now has 59 in her career.
In 2011, Shults was diagnosed with pan ulcerative colitis, forcing her to miss seven games before returning for the Women's College World Series. Since then, she has talked publicly about what she went through in hopes of shedding light on the rare genetic disease and to keep others from thinking they were suffering alone.
With her major in communication, Shults has been named to the Big 12 Commissioner's Honor Roll once and is a one-time Sooner Scholar.
An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School®, the Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities.
The finalists were chosen by a media committee from the list of 30 candidates announced in February. Nationwide fan voting begins immediately to help select the winner. Fans can vote daily for up to three candidates on the Senior CLASS Award website or on the Senior CLASS Award Facebook fan page through May 13. Fan votes will be combined with media and Division I head coaches' votes to determine the winner.
The Senior CLASS Award winner will be announced during the 2013 NCAA Women's College World Series® in Oklahoma City, Okla. May 30 through June 5.