STARKVILLE, Miss. - An All-American, career-record holder and former professional softball player, is coming to Starkville. Samantha Ricketts will complete the 2014-15 Mississippi State softball coaching staff, according to an announcement from head coach Vann Stuedeman Monday.
Ricketts, who will work with Bulldog hitters and have game management and recruiting responsibilities, spent the last three years as an assistant coach at Wichita State University.
“Coach Ricketts is a perfect fit for our softball family,” Stuedeman said. “A prolific hitter in her own right, she made a profound impact at Wichita State as its batting average went from .231 to .314 in just three years with the Shockers.
”We are excited and optimistic about Samantha’s arrival to MSU as she is a proven winner. She possesses the characteristics of a champion.”
With the Shockers, Ricketts worked with the team’s hitters and consistently improved their production. This last spring was her most successful as she helped the Shockers increase their overall win total by 15 from 2013 to 2014. Wichita State finished 21-6 in the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) in 2014 to win the program’s first regular-season league title.
Ricketts was part of the MVC Coaching Staff of the Year, helping to improve the Shockers from the ninth place in 2012, to eighth place in 2013, to MVC champs in 2014.
“I am very excited to be joining the Bulldog softball program as well as the Mississippi State family,” Ricketts said. “I am looking forward to contributing to the success of the program that Vann Stuedeman has been building and I truly believe it is an exciting time to be at Mississippi State University.”
Individually, Ricketts produced five starters who each hit better than .300 in 2014 after the squad did not have a batter hit over .300 in 2013. The Shockers scored 138 more runs, smashed 26 more home runs, hit 11 more doubles and added seven more triples last spring than in the 2013 season. Overall, the 2014 team established the program single-season records for batting average, slugging percentage, on-base percentage, runs scored, hits, doubles, home runs, runs batted in and total bases.
Under Ricketts’ guidance, Cacy Williams was a National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) All-Midwest Region First-Team honoree in 2014 as well as becoming the first student-athlete in MVC history to receive Player of the Year and Newcomer of the Year honors from the league. She broke the Wichita State single-season records for batting average (.424), slugging percentage (.812), on-base percentage (.531), total bases (138), runs scored (57), home runs (16) and RBI (47). Brittany Fortner joined Williams on the MVC First Team and was an NFCA All-Midwest Region Second-Team selection. She tallied 14 doubles, two shy of the program record, and finished with a .358 batting average, 62 hits, 35 RBI and a .578 slugging percentage.
In 2013, her second season at Wichita State, Ricketts oversaw a 12-point jump in team batting average from 2012 while helping the squad to 17 more doubles and seven additional home runs. She also helped Erin Carney earn a spot on the All- MVC First Team.
During her first year with the Shockers, Ricketts coached Rachel Milnark and Sydney Stuever to Second Team All-MVC accolades.
“Coach Ricketts' experience, maturity and proficiency will undoubtedly assist in moving our Bulldogs to the next level.” Stuedeman added.
At the conclusion of her four-year Oklahoma playing career in 2009, Ricketts was the record holder in career home runs (48) and runs batted in (239) while ranking third in extra-base hits (97), total bases (444), slugging percentage (.645) and on-base percentage (.461). She started 192 consecutive games and ended her career as the Big 12 career RBI leader.
On the field, Ricketts was a four-time All-Big 12 First-Team selection and a two-time Academic All-Big 12 First-Team honoree. In 2009, she was named to the NFCA All-America Second Team and NFCA All-Central Region First-Team pick and was a top-10 finalist for the Lowe’s Senior Class Award.
In 2008, she was named to the Preseason USA Softball National Player of the Year Watch List and ESPN.com’s Preseason All-America Second Team. Ricketts ended her junior season with All-Big 12 Tournament honors.
As a sophomore, Ricketts was a Second-Team All-American and First-Team NFCA All-Midwest Region selection. She became the first Sooner to be a top-three finalist for the USA Softball Player of the Year award after topping all Division I players in runs batted in during the regular season. She was the lone freshman in 2006 to earn All-Big 12 First Team honors and was selected as a member of the NFCA All-Midwest Region squad.
Ricketts began her coaching career on the Oklahoma softball staff as a graduate assistant coach, in 2010 and 2011. During that time she played in the National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) league with the Akron Racers. She was the 12th overall pick in the 2009 NPF Draft.
The San Jose, Calif., product earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Oklahoma in 2009 and her master’s of education in adult higher education with an emphasis in intercollegiate athletic administration in December of 2011.
Ricketts has three younger siblings who played collegiate athletics. Her sister Stephanie graduated in 2012 after an All-American pitching career at the University of Hawai’i and her sister Keilani graduated from the University of Oklahoma and is playing for the USSSA Pride of the NPF and Shokki Softball in Japan. Keilani was the 2012 and 2013 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year. Her younger brother Richard played football at the Air Force Academy.