OKLAHOMA CITY — California redshirt senior Valerie Arioto made a triumphant return to NCAA Division I softball at the Kajikawa Classic last week in Tempe, Ariz., earning her the first USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Week Award of the 2012 season, the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) of America announced today. It is the first Player of the Week selection for Arioto (Pleasanton, Calif.).
After breaking her leg on the second day of practice in January 2011, what was meant to be her senior season, Arioto returned to the field with a vengeance for the Golden Bears. Not only did Arioto hit a home run in her very first at-bat of the 2012 season but she went on to hit three homers, drive in a team-high nine RBI, slug 1.444, hit .444 (4-for-9) and put up a 0.00 ERA in seven innings of work at the Kajikawa Classic. She was also walked five times.
"She had an outstanding weekend for her first outing since her injury and has not lost a step in her play," Cal head coach Diane Ninemire said. "It's really great to have her back on our team and adding extra hitting, defense and pitching."
In the first game of the year, against then-No. 9 Tennessee, Arioto homered in her very first at-bat to give the Bears an early 1-0 lead. Later in that same game, Arioto cleared the fences with her second homer of the game and season. The Bears went on to win that game 13-5 over Tennessee, a team that defeated then-No. 1 Arizona State later in the tournament. Against Texas State, Arioto hit her third homer of the season, driving in three runs. Later in that same game, Arioto drove in her ninth RBI of the weekend with a sac fly.
“It’s really great to be back on the field with my teammates,” Arioto said. “Their hard work and enthusiasm is contagious and makes me want to get better.”
After not pitching since June 2010, Arioto pitched a complete-game shutout over Bradley in Cal’s second game of the season. Arioto, a utility who regularly plays first base for Cal, limited the Braves to just a .091 batting average with two hits. She struck out a weekend-high 11 opposing batters and only allowed three walks. In that game, she also went 1-for-1 at the plate with one RBI and one run scored.
Impart to Arioto’s contributions, Cal earned the No. 1 ranking in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 Poll released earlier today by ASA. The Bears were ranked third in the pre-season poll.
The Amateur Softball Association, founded in 1933, is the National Governing Body of softball in the United States and a member of the United States Olympic Committee. The ASA has become one of the nation’s largest sports organizations and now sanctions competition in every state through a network of 76 local associations. The ASA has grown from a few hundred teams in the early days to over 210,000 teams today, representing a membership of more than three million. For more information on the ASA, visit http://www.asasoftball.com/.
About USA Softball
USA Softball is the brand created, operated and owned by the ASA that links the USA Men’s, Women’s, Junior Boys’ and Junior Girls’ National Team programs together. USA Softball is responsible for training, equipping and promoting these four National Teams to compete in international and domestic competitions. The USA Softball Women’s National Team is one of only two women’s sports involved in the Olympic movement to capture three consecutive gold medals at the Olympic Games since 1996. The U.S. women have also won nine World Championship titles including the last seven consecutive as well as claimed five World Cup of Softball titles. For more information about USA Softball, please visit http://www.usasoftball.com/.