NORMAN, Okla. – They have only been in the league for two seasons now, but all former sooners Keilani Ricketts and Jessica Shults know is how to win championships. The duo collected their second consecutive National Pro Fastpitch Championship as the USSSA Pride swept a two-game series from the Akron Racers to win the Cowles Cup last weekend in Hoover, Ala.
Ricketts got the start in the title-clinching game, though she lasted only one inning as she gave up three hits, one of which was a two-run home run. Her teammates picked her up though with a seven-run sixth inning to gain an insurmountable lead and cruise to an 8-3 victory.
Shults also saw action in the win, entering as a pinch hitter and going 0-1.
Appearing in 20 games over the season, Ricketts finished with a 7-6 record and 1.90 earned run average. She struck out 56 batters in 66.2 innings with just 16 walks issued. She was the pitcher of record when the Pride beat the Pennsylvania Rebellion to reach the Championship Series. Ricketts allowed just two unearned runs in 5.1 innings with five strikeouts and five hits allowed as USSSA won 3-2 on Aug. 21.
Like Ricketts, Shults also appeared in 20 games for the Pride. She hit .231 with a home run, four runs batted in and two runs scored on the season.
Fellow NPF member and former Sooner Michelle Gascoigne lost in the semifinals with her Chicago Bandits. One of four pitchers selected to the 2014 All NPF Team, Gascoigne played in 17 games and went 7-4 for the Bandits. She struck out 61 in 81.1 innings of work to go with 18 walks. She pitched her team to a win in the semis with a 4.0 inning effort, giving up one run on three hits with three strikeouts in a 4-1 win on Aug. 21.
Gascoigne was at her best over the final month of the regular season. In 43.0 innings from July 11 to Aug. 17, she gave up three earned runs for a 0.49 ERA. The Bandits went 30-18 on the year, finishing three games behind the Pride (33-15).