American squad includes Oklahoma's Keilani Ricketts and Jessica Shults.
NORMAN, Okla. -- The USA Softball National Team, which includes Oklahoma's Keilani Ricketts and Jessica Shults on its roster, opens official summer play Saturday in Oklahoma City as it takes on Canada at 6 p.m. in the 40th Anniversary Title IX Game. The game at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium, which will be aired live on ESPN, is the team's final tune up before the World Cup of Softball, June 28 - July 2 in Oklahoma City.
Both Ricketts and Shults are on the squad for the second consecutive year and recently helped the team to two wins over the USA Elite Team that included Oklahoma's Lauren Chamberlain and Destinee Martinez.
The two teams split a doubleheader in Summersville, W. Va., before the national team claimed a win in Ashland, Ohio. The Elite Team claimed the series' first win, 5-2, as Martinez led all batters with three hits in five appearances at the plate. The team's starting centerfielder, Martinez also stole one base while Chamberlain picked up a walk after starting the game at first base. Neither Ricketts or Shults played in the opening game.
The National Team rebounded with a 9-0 run-rule win in five innings as Ricketts and Shults entered the starting lineup. Ricketts began the game as USA's designated player before pitching the final two innings as she joined Shults, the team's starting catcher, in the battery. At the plate, the USA Softball Player of the Year collected a double, a run and a walk while striking out one without allowing a hit in two innings of action inside the circle. Shults picked up a hit up for the National Team while Martinez walked once as she and Chamberlain held their starting spots in the Elite Team's lineup.
In the final meeting between the two teams, a 1-0 eight-inning win by the National Team, Ricketts got the start in the circle and responded with two innings of shutout action, striking out one while allowing just one hit. Chamberlain was responsible for one of the Elite Team's four hits while Shults picked up a hit when she entered the game at catcher in the fifth inning.
Following Saturday's North American battle, the American team will turn its attention to the World Cup of Softball and its opening game against Puerto Rico on Thursday, June 28 at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City.