Feb. 8, 2013
The senior lefthander threw the second no-hitter of her career, with 14 strikeouts, and hit a solo home run in the first inning as No. 2 Oklahoma defeated No. 21 Stanford, 6-0, in a season-opening win at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz.
"It was definitely a great way to start," Ricketts said. "It was exciting to get back out on the field and perform really well against a tough Stanford team."
Ricketts' cause was aided by a Sooners offense that slugged four home runs in the first two innings, including back-to-back-to-back shots in the game's first frame.
"I think I came in really confident and relaxed because we had already gotten ahead with a huge lead so I didn't have pressure on me, too much," Ricketts said.
Head coach Patty Gasso liked the way the game started for the Sooners, who reached the finals of the Women's College World Series a year ago.
"I think the beginning of this game was them waiting about eight months to release some things that had been held in for a while," Gasso said. "I thought we came out attacking. Keilani was fantastic.
"Give tremendous credit to Stanford freshman Kelsey Stevens. She kept us off balance very well. We got lax and we need to continue to compete no matter what our lead is. I thought we let off the gas a little bit."
Mixing speeds and painting the corners, Ricketts was dominant against the Cardinal as she yielded just five baserunners. In fact, not a single ball even reached the outfield against the San Jose, Calif., native.
It was the second no-hitter of Ricketts' career. Last season she blanked Kansas in five innings on March 30.
"I thought she was hitting really good locations and adjusting to the umpire's strike zone very well," Gasso said. "You could feel Keilani and [catcher] Jessica [Shults] were very much in tune with Coach [Melyssa] Lombardi and her game plan."
Shults said that Ricketts' success was evident before the game.
"Starting out in the bullpen, she just looked like she was on," Shults said. "Everything was working and she just went into the game relaxed and calm. She was ready to battle and everything worked for her today."
The Oklahoma offense, which set a Big 12 record a year ago with 102 home runs, didn't miss a beat in the new season.
The first five batters of the season reached for the Sooners. After Lauren Chamberlain was hit by the season's first pitch and Georgia Casey walked, Shults drilled a line-drive home run over the fence in center field. It was the 55th homer of her career, putting her one off the school and Big 12 record.
Ricketts followed with a mammoth shot to right center field and Shelby Pendley, in her first at-bat as a Sooner, launched a towering shot to straight-away center.
The power surge continued in the second inning as Chamberlain, who set the Big 12 record a year ago with 30 home runs, sent a liner over the left field wall for her first of the season.
That was all the run support Ricketts would need as the two teams battled to a scoreless tie over the game's final five innings.
The Sooners return to action Friday afternoon against Oregon State. First pitch is set for 3:30 p.m. CT.