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UH, Ricketts start strong in WAC


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POSTED: Thursday, March 26, 2009

Like many college freshmen, Stephanie Ricketts was feeling a bit unsure of herself in her new surroundings. So she put in a call to her big sister.

               

     

 

Nevada (22-9, 2-0 WAC) at Hawaii (14-17, 2-1)

        When: Tomorrow-Saturday
       

TV: KFVE (Saturday)

       

Radio: KKEA ,1420-AM (Saturday, second game)

       

 

       

Looks like the advice worked.

After working through those early nerves, Ricketts has emerged as the Hawaii softball team's top starting pitcher and put together an impressive Western Athletic Conference debut last weekend.

She opened WAC play with a no-hitter against Louisiana Tech and closed the three-game series with another shutout, coming within an out of her second no-no of the weekend. Ricketts then closed the road trip to Louisiana with a 4-0 win over Grambling State on Monday, raising her record to 9-5 while dropping her earned-run average to 1.82.

Ricketts has a streak of 25 1/3 innings without allowing an earned run as the Wahine (14-17, 2-1 WAC) enter a three-game WAC series with Nevada (22-9, 2-0), starting tomorrow at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium.

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While Ricketts credits catcher Katie Grimes with keeping the hitters off balance and the Rainbow Wahine defense for its solid play behind her, an assist also goes to her sister—Oklahoma senior first baseman Samantha Ricketts—for helping her acclimate to the college level.

“;I call her all the time,”; Ricketts said. “;She helped me in the beginning of the year when I wasn't really sure of everything and she was telling me about college softball.

Samantha's most important tip ...

...”;Just to be confident in myself and forget about when bad things happen and keep moving forward and rely on my team.”;

Ricketts' ability to execute that last bit of guidance proved particularly beneficial last weekend.

In her no-hitter, she posted just one strikeout while inducing 16 ground-ball outs and four popups.

“;I gave my team a lot of ground balls and they made really good plays behind me and Katie called really good games,”; said Ricketts, named WAC Pitcher of the Week on Monday.

Ricketts got her first start eight games into the season, moving into the rotation during the team's road trip to Las Vegas and Palm Springs. Her performance against No. 1 Alabama in the final game of the Cathedral City Classic may have been a turning point.

She matched two Crimson Tide All-Americans over eight scoreless innings, before Alabama scratched out a run in the bottom of the eighth.

“;You could just tell from the beginning of the road trip to the end when we played Alabama, that she was totally focused and a totally different pitcher,”; Grimes said.

“;Coach (Bob Coolen) always talks about presence on the mound and presence when you play and Stephanie definitely has a presence on the mound.”;

While she relied on her sister for reassurance, Ricketts began her career with Samantha in the opposite dugout when the Wahine upset the Sooners 8-5 in the season opener at RWSS.

“;I never played against her before and she'd never been to Hawaii,”; she said. “;So it was just really fun to have my family here for my first college game.”;

Ricketts and the UH pitching staff will again be tested this weekend in facing a Wolf Pack lineup that ranks second in the WAC with a .336 team batting average and 32 home runs. Sophomore outfielder Britton Murdock is hitting .417 to pace a team that features seven players hitting .300 or better and brings a 10-game winning streak to Honolulu.

“;We've got some work to do and Coach Bob talked to us about that,”; Grimes said. “;We're going to be challenged in the next couple practices to get ready for this series.”;