Photo credit: Michael Kinney
By Michael Kinney
OKLAHOMA CITY — By the time Kellani Ricketts finished her career at the University of Oklahoma, softball had been excluded from the Olympics games for five years. And in 2013, there were really no signs that it was going to be added back any time soon.
Despite that, Ricketts kept up hope that one day her dream of being able to play in the Olympics would be realized.
“I think we kind of always had it in the back of our minds that we knew the 2020 Olympics would be in Tokyo. So we just kind of had hope and kept working for it and hopefully that goal would come back,” Ricketts said. “When they decided to put it back in for 2020, that’s when things started to get a little closer and you started to see a lot more people a lot more motivated because we had that goal again.”
Ricketts, who has been playing in the National Pro Fastpitch League since leaving Oklahoma, is back in the state for what could be the most important softball tryouts of her career. She joined 28 other hopefuls at the 2020 U.S. Olympic Softball Team Selection Trials at USA Hall of Fame Stadium. They are looking to earn a spot on the women’s national team that will compete in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo next summer.
“It’s really special because this is a really special event for the sport of softball,” said Ricketts. “Being able to have the Olympic team made here, being able to have it in Oklahoma City where it’s one of our biggest stages with the Women’s College World Series. So it’s special to be able to have everything here.”
The trials are open to the public to come and watch. They will last through Oct. 7, depending on the weather.
The final roster for the 2020 USA Softball WNT will be announced at the conclusion of the Selection Trials Oct. 8. Ricketts is hoping to be one of the 15 players who hear their name called.
“Obviously, the competition is going to be very intense, very good this week,” Ricketts said. “Just being able to stay confident. There’s going to be tough times for all of us and just being able to push through that.”
Rickets is joined at the trials by a pair of other Sooners who are looking to make their first appearance on the national team. They include Shelby Pendley (2015) and Sydney Romero (2019).
Romero was at the same complex just over four months ago competing with the Sooners in the Women’s College World Series.
“It’s fun. I think everyone loves being in OKC,” Romero said. “It’s nice to be familiar with the field and familiar with the atmosphere here.”
Romero said playing for her country has been a goal of hers for some time. But she doesn’t want to put too much pressure on herself to make the Olympic team.
“I’m surrounded by amazing athletes. The fact that I have the opportunity to be on the same field as them and just playing with them, competing with them, it’s a great accomplishment,” Romero said. “You can’t make it bigger than what it is. You have to go out and play, you have to be you. That’s my biggest thing, to just be myself.”
Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Provider