Oklahoma softball announced an addition to their program Tuesday afternoon in the form of now former Stanford pitcher Kelsey Stevens.
Stevens was a member of the All-Pac 12 freshman team this past season compiling a 15-7 overall record while finishing the season with a team high 163 strikeouts (136.0 innings). In a touch of irony, she actually faced the Sooners very early in the season coming on in relief during Oklahoma's season opener. OU put up five runs on the Stanford starter before Stevens came on and held the Sooners to one run over the final six innings while striking out seven.
Following the loss of one of the greatest players in softball history, Keilani Ricketts, and fellow senior ace Michelle Gascoigne, the Sooners certainly have an opening for their starting pitcher. Returning junior Georgia Casey was expected to compete for a starting pitcher's role after playing her first two seasons at second base. With the addition of Stevens, Oklahoma adds a very talented player to an obvious position of need. The Sooners return a powerful offense, obviously led by Lauren Chamberlain, but prior to this news their pitching was somewhat of a question mark. Not for a lack of talent necessarily, but any time you lose players the caliber of a Ricketts and/or Gascoigne it's going to be very difficult to replace them without a couple bumps along the way.
This now marks the second consecutive offseason the Oklahoma softball program has added a former Pac 12 standout. Last year, the Sooners were pleased to announce the addition of former Arizona Wildcat Shelby Pendley. And all she did was go on to .357 for Oklahoma this past season with 22 home runs and 73 runs batted in. Oh yeah, and she was also named Big 12 Player of the Year.
So the bar has been set high, one can only hope Stevens can come in and have similar success in the Big 12. Stevens will have three years of eligibility remaining and is expected to be available next season with the different NCAA transfer rules for softball.
Keilani Ricketts Signs Professional Contract
In other OU softball related news, following her decision to leave Team USA Keilani Ricketts has agreed to a three-year contract with the USSSA Pride of the National Pro Fastpitch league. She will be reunited with her former OU battery mate Jessica Shults who is also a member of the Pride after being selected in the NPF player entry draft earlier this summer.
Ricketts is expected to make her Pride and NPF debut this coming weekend against the NY/NJ Comets.