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Oklahoma’s Keilani Ricketts, who has Samoan ancestry and ties to American Samoa, was named the Big 12 Conference’s Female Athlete of the Year last month. Ricketts, who plays softball for the Oklahoma Sooners added this award to her growing list of other prestigious awards and accolades, which also include being named softball’s two-time National Player of the Year.


“I just try to be better than anyone else. I have just always told myself that,” said Ricketts to the Oklahoma News, NewsOk at


In speaking about her Samoan heritage, she told NewsOk, “My mom is Samoan. In their culture you respect your elders very much and do a lot of chores and clean a lot." She also said, " I love Samoan pancakes. They are awesome. It is like this fried ball. It’s really fried and crispy”.


In 2011, Ricketts was in the territory along with her sister to conduct softball clinics. “We got close to our culture two years ago. Me and my sister got the chance to do a softball clinic in Samoa. The was really cool — to be able to learn a lot more of the traditions they have and the way the kids are raised,” she told the NewsOk.


Ricketts helped her cause to being named the Big 12 Conference’s Female Athlete of the Year for going 35-1 and helping her Sooners to the Women’s College World Series (WCWS) title this season.


Because of her extraordinary season, she also received the 2013 Honda Cup Award as the nation's top female collegiate student-athlete and was also named the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year for the second consecutive year.


During the WCWS, she pitched 39 strikeouts in 31 innings while maintaining a batting average of .412 to earn Most Outstanding Player honors. She also hit two home runs and drove in six runs at the plate, including all four RBIs in the Championship Series finale over Tennessee.


Keilani Ricketts is the granddaughter of the late Lewis and Louisa Ripley Gabbard of Tafuna and Leone. She was born and raised in San Jose, California to parents Jeff and Carol Gabbard Ricketts.


With the many other awards and accolades she has received in college softball, she will most likely go down as one of the greats, not only at the University of Oklahoma, but in all of college softball history.