With its abundance of talent and experience, Oklahoma roared through the Big 12 to the No. 1 softball ranking in the country.

It’s only fitting that the Sooners should reap the major awards.

Keilani Ricketts is the Tribune-Herald’s Big 12 pitcher of the year, first baseman Lauren Chamberlain player of the year and Patty Gasso coach of the year. The only major award Oklahoma didn’t win was freshman of the year, which went to Baylor third baseman Sarah Smith.

As the reigning national player of the year who led the Sooners to last year’s national championship game, it’s no surprise Ricketts has delivered a great senior year.

Ricketts has been the premier pitcher in the Big 12 all season with a 27-1 record, a 1.41 ERA and 276 strikeouts in 185 innings. She’s also a devastating hitter with a .369 average, 12 homers and 42 RBIs.

“Keilani has absolutely improved every season,” Gasso said. “She got experience from pitching in last year’s World Series championship game and for the national team. Our team understands what it means to have Keilani out there at her best.”

An all-American since her freshman year, Ricketts has compiled a remarkable 125-35 record with a 1.23 ERA and 1,531 strikeouts in 1,021 innings during four seasons for the Sooners.

Gasso said the 6-2 left-hander puts a tremendous amount of pressure on herself to perform at a high level and be the team’s leader.

“She’s a constant perfectionist, and sometimes that gets in the way because she gets frustrated and lets her emotions get in the way,” Gasso said. “But I think she’s been dealing with that a lot better. She’s been trying to live up to the expectations that she’s felt. But she’s started to let go of that and has been going out there saying ‘This is who I am.’ ”

After a tremendous freshman year, Chamberlain has delivered an electric sophomore year. The powerful first baseman is tied for second among Big 12 hitters with a .442 average while collecting a league-high 25 homers. Her 64 RBIs match teammate Shelby Pendley for the most in the Big 12.

There isn’t a much scarier sight for opposing pitchers than Chamberlain stepping up to the plate in the leadoff spot.

“She starts the game with a great tone,” Gasso said. “She runs very well and can steal bases. Most importantly she gets more at-bats. It’s hard to pitch around her because of who we have.”

Chamberlain began producing big numbers for the Sooners as soon as she stepped on campus — she hit .357 with 30 homers and 78 RBIs as a freshman —but Gasso believes Chamberlain has been even better this season.

“She came in so ready to play as a freshman, but she’s absolutely made steps forward,” Gasso said. “She fought through the middle part of the Big 12 when she wasn’t putting up the same offensive numbers. But she’s worked hard to get comfortable and has put up real good numbers toward the end.”

In a strong Big 12 freshman class, Smith has been the best at a pressure-packed position.

After playing outfield throughout her high school career, Baylor coach Glenn Moore asked her to move to third base where she would follow Megan Turk and Brette Reagan.

Smith has played third base like she’s been doing it her whole life as she didn’t commit an error until the season finale against Texas. She’s also been one of Baylor’s top hitters all season as she’s batted .367 with five homers and 26 RBIs.

“She’s exceeded my expectations,” Moore said. “We recruited her for her hitting ability, and she hasn’t disappointed there. She’s been consistent offensively, and has put up big numbers. It takes a unique person to play on the corner, and she’s done a phenomenal job there.”

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2013 ALL-BIG 12 SOFTBALL TEAM

First team

Pos Player School Class BA HR RBI Notable

1B Lauren Chamberlain Oklahoma So .442 25 64 League-high 148 total bases

2B Georgia Casey Oklahoma So .333 6 34 7 stolen bases

SS Taylor Thom Texas Jr .383 12 55 Third in Big 12 RBIs

3B Shelby Pendley Oklahoma So .380 19 64 Big 12 RBI co-leader

C Alex Hugo Kansas Fr .428 15 47 .799 slugging percentage

OF Brejae Washington Texas Jr .384 2 23 28 stolen bases

OF Kathy Shelton Baylor Sr .365 1 16 League-high 37 stolen bases

OF Maggie Hull Kansas Sr .456 7 45 Big 12’s top hitter

DP Taylor Hoagland Texas Sr .442 13 40 tied for second in Big 12 hitting

Utility Brianna Turang Oklahoma Sr .404 0 15 .500 in Big 12 play

Pitchers

Player School Class W-L IP SO ERA

Keilani Ricketts Oklahoma Sr 27-1 185 276 1.41

Blaire Luna Texas Sr 26-5 200 2/3 342 1.52

Whitney Canion Baylor Jr 23-8 190 151 2.08

Player of the year: Lauren Chamberlain, Oklahoma Pitcher of the year: Keilani Ricketts, Oklahoma

Coach of the year: Patty Gasso, Oklahoma Freshman of the year: Sarah Smith, Baylor

Second team

Pos Player School Class BA HR RBI Notable

1B Erica Miller Iowa State Sr .353 6 52 4th in Big 12 RBIs

2B Ari Morrison Oklahoma State Jr .323 1 9 .423 on-base percentage

SS Stephanie Ceo Texas Fr .336 0 12 8 stolen bases

3B Sarah Smith Baylor Fr .367 5 26 8 doubles

C Mandy Ogle Texas Jr .336 3 38 .471 on-base percentage

OF Destinee Martinez Oklahoma Jr .355 0 20 .440 in Big 12 play

OF Kaitlyn Thumann Baylor So .387 4 31 12 doubles

OF Mikey Kenney Texas Tech Sr .354 13 47 42 walks

DP Tori Torrescano Iowa State Sr .298 14 43 .422 on-base percentage

Utility Tarah Ettinger Oklahoma State Jr .327 10 42 .568 slugging percentage

Pitchers

Player School Class W-L IP SO ERA

Michelle Gascoigne Oklahoma Sr 17-3 123 1/3 189 1.17

Kelsey Kessler Kansas Fr 12-6 118 116 2.82

Kim Bruins Texas Sr 9-0 72 64 2.12

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