June 27, 2013
NORMAN, Okla. - The season may have ended weeks ago, but the accolades and honors continue to roll in for the Oklahoma softball team. Just this week Keilani Ricketts won the Honda Cup, while the coaches were named the NFCA National Coaching Staff of the Year.
Now the Sooners will compete against the rest of the sports world with two ESPY Award nominations. Oklahoma is nominated for Best Team, while Ricketts is up for Best Female College Athlete.
The 21st annual ESPY Awards are scheduled to air live on ESPN at 8 p.m. CT on July 17 with actor Jon Hamm serving as host.
Fan voting is now underway for all categories at ESPYS.com. Once the show begins, voting for Best Team switches to Twitter and fans are directed to use the hashtag #ESPYSBestTeam with the team name. ESPN.com and Twitter votes will then be combined at the end of the show to determine the winner.
The team category features a tremendous field. Oklahoma is up against the U.S. Women's Gymnastics team, the San Francisco Giants, the University of Alabama football team, the Baltimore Ravens, the Chicago Blackhawks and the Miami Heat.
In the 20-year history of the ESPYs, only two college programs have won Best Team, though the last to do it was the Oklahoma football team in 2001 after winning the national championship.
Oklahoma was a perfect 10-0 in the NCAA tournament and outscored its opponents, 91-16, en route to winning its second national championship. Facing Tennessee in the championship series, OU claimed a dramatic game one victory with a 5-3, 12-inning come-from-behind win. In game two, Michelle Gascoigne struck out 12 while Keilani Ricketts drove in all the runs in a 4-0 victory.
The Sooners were ranked No. 1 by ESPN.com/USA Softball for 15 straight weeks to end the season, while the USA Today/NFCA poll put Oklahoma on top for the final 11 weeks. Six times this season OU was a unanimous No. 1, including the final polls.
The team led the nation in both earned run average (1.16) and runs scored per game (7.8), becoming the first team in DI history to do so. In addition, OU led the country in slugging percentage (.582) and winning percentage (.934).
For Best Female College Athlete, Ricketts faces Kara Cannizzaro of North Carolina lacrosse, Crystal Dunn of North Carolina soccer and Brittney Griner of Baylor basketball. Ricketts topped both Cannizzaro and Dunn to take the Honda Cup, given to the nation's top female collegiate athlete, on Monday, while Griner is the defending winner of the award.
The two-time USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year, Ricketts was 35-1 this season with a 1.23 earned run average and 350 strikeouts in 238.1 innings pitched. She posted the second most shutouts in the nation this year with 16 and ranked third in wins (35), fifth in hits allowed per seven innings (3.61), sixth in total strikeouts (350) and eighth in both ERA (1.23) and strikeouts per seven innings (10.3).
Additionally, Ricketts hit .379 at the plate with 15 home runs and 60 runs batted in. She slugged .725, got on base at a .534 clip and was a perfect 9-9 on stolen bases.
The last time Oklahoma was nominated for an ESPY came in 2009 when Sam Bradford and Blake Griffin were each in the running for Best Male College Athlete.