The top-ranked Oklahoma softball team boasts three of the 25 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 join sophomore infielder Lauren Chamberlain as OU's representatives on the list. With three honorees, Oklahoma is tied with Tennessee for the second-most finalists, trailing only Alabama, which has four.
The defending USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year, Ricketts is 18-1 on the season with a 1.04 earned run average and has struck out 190 batters with 25 walks in 128.1 innings pitched. She leads the NCAA with 13 shutouts and ranks in the top 10 in ERA, hits allowed per seven innings, strikeouts per seven innings, on-base percentage and walks drawn per game.
A three-time Big 12 Pitcher of the Week this season, Ricketts opened the season with back-to-back no-hitters against No. 21 Stanford and No. 5 Oregon.
Gascoigne has flourished in her senior season as she leads all Division I players with a 0.86 ERA and is one of just two players in the country with a mark below 1.00. Gascoigne holds a 14-1 record and has 152 strikeouts in 90.0 innings of work. She has thrown nine complete games and seven shutouts.
Her rate of 11.8 strikeouts per seven innings is second in the country, while her figure of 3.58 hits allowed per seven is fifth. Gascoigne, who was named the Big 12 Pitcher of the Week on Feb. 19, struck out a career-high 16 batters against UC Riverside on Feb. 15.
The 2012 Big 12 Freshman of the Year, Chamberlain hasn't skipped a beat in 2013. She leads the country with 18 home runs and a 1.118 slugging percentage, while hitting .452 with a .622 on-base percentage. Starting all 36 games at first base, Chamberlain leads the team with 46 runs batted in, 48 runs scored, 39 walks and seven stolen bases.
A two-time Big 12 Player of the Week this season, Chamberlain has worked her way up to a tie for fifth all-time in the Big 12 and third at OU with 48 career home runs.
This year's Top 25 is comprised of 11 seniors, eight juniors, four sophomores and two freshmen. The student-athletes selected represent 17 NCAA Division I universities and five athletic conferences.
Just prior to the start of postseason play, on May 8 the list will be narrowed to the Top 10 Finalists. The Top 3 Finalists will be announced 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 as well as members of the media who consistently cover Division I Softball across the country.