NORMAN, Okla. - With just over two weeks remaining in the 2013 National Pro Fastpitch Season, all four members of the 2013 University of Oklahoma softball senior class are gearing up for the postseason run. The playoffs begin Aug. 22 at the Ballpark at Rosemont, home of the Chicago Bandits.
|Michelle Gascoigne - Chicago Bandits|
Michelle Gascoigne and the Chicago Bandits currently sit atop the standings with a 29-10 record. One of five pitchers on the roster, Gascoigne has appeared in 13 games this season with seven starts. She is 5-0 on the year with a 1.46 earned run average. She has struck out 36 and walked 13 while giving up 42 hits and 13 runs - 11 earned - in 52.2 innings pitched.
One of Gascoigne's best outings this season came on July 20 when she earned the win over the Akron Racers. The lefty allowed just one run on five hits while striking out a career-high seven batters in the victory. She followed that up the following week with another complete-game win, this time over the New York/New Jersey Comets. Gascoigne again allowed just one run as she struck out three Comets.
Gascoigne earned a tough no-decision vs. USSSA on July 29, throwing 6.1 innings of scoreles ball before being relieved. The Pride ended up getting the 1-0 win in nine innings.
The Benicia, Calif., native is the only pitcher in the NPF to have not suffered a loss this year and currently ranks fourth in the league in ERA and opponents' batting average (.214).x
|Keilani Ricketts - USSSA Pride|
Sitting second in the standings with a 28-12 record are Keilani Ricketts and the USSSA Pride. Ricketts made her NPF debut on July 19 against New York/New Jersey, singling in her lone at-bat. Playing in nine games, Ricketts has a .308 batting average with three runs scored and a pair of doubles. Her .550 on-base percentage leads the Pride.
She has yet to find her groove in the circle, though. In 14.1 innings, Ricketts is 0-2 with a 9.27 earned run average, though she does have 19 strikeouts and one save over five appearances and three starts. Her 11.9 strikeouts per seven innings rank third in the league.
At the plate, Ricketts had her best day in the second game of her career, going 2-3 against the Comets with a double and run scored. Against Akron on July 25, Ricketts picked up another double and scored another run, finishing 1-3 at the plate.
Ricketts made her pitching debut on July 20 against the Comets, getting the start and lasting three innings with three earned runs and four strikeouts. She struck out a career-high seven batters against Akron on July 25, though it did come in a losing effort.
|Jessica Shults - USSSA Pride|
When Ricketts joined up with the USSSA Pride, she was reunited with former Sooners battery-mate Jessica Shults. The All-American catcher has played in 19 games this year and is hitting .240 with a solo home run, a double, two runs scored and three walks drawn. She holds a .321 on-base percentage and .400 slugging percentage, good for a .721 OPS (one-base plus slugging percentage).
Shults picked up her first career multi-hit game on Aug. 2 against Akron, going 2-2 with a run scored. She tallied her first double of her career in a prior series against the Racers, accomplishing the feat on July 6.
|Brianna Turang - Akron Racers|
Brianna Turang has played in 35 of 39 games for the Akron Racers, who are in third place with a 14-25 record. Turang ranks third on the team with a .272 batting average and is tied for the team lead with 21 runs scored on the year. She has a .312 OBP and .301 slugging mark.
After suffering through a six-game hitless streak, Turang bounced back on July 12 with a 3-5 performance against New York/New Jersey, including two runs scored. In the series finale against the Comets, Turang added another multi-hit gam by going 2-4.
Turang now has nine games this season with at least hits, doing so most recently against the Comets on July 31, a 2-3 day that included a double and career-high two runs batted in. On July 26 against the USSSA Pride, Turang equaled her career best with three runs scored, putting the exclamation mark on a 2-3 day at the plate.