2012 USA Softball Athletes of the Year

By Codi Warren | Jan. 17, 2013, 12 a.m. (ET)

OKLAHOMA CITY – Valerie Arioto (Pleasanton, Calif.) has been named the 2012 USA Softball Female Athlete of the Year while Dennis Rulli (Moorpark, Calif.) was selected as the Male Athlete of the Year, the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) of America and USA Softball announced today. Jerlin Rutt (Bernville, Pa.) has also been selected as the Athlete of the Year from the Junior Men’s National Team program.

Second-year infielder Arioto followed up her senior season at California with an outstanding summer playing for Team USA. The 23-year-old saw action in 24 of the team’s 25 games and helped lead the Red, White and Blue to a World Cup Championship and Silver medal finishes in the Canadian Open Championship and International Softball Federation (ISF) Women’s World Championship. Arioto was named the Batting MVP of the Canadian Open Championship after finishing the event with five home runs and 13 RBI.

“I’m so honored to be named 2012 USA Softball Female Athlete of the Year,” said Arioto. “The supported I’ve received from my family, my Team USA family and my Cal family has been tremendous and I wouldn’t be where I am without their help.”

Arioto batted .462 on the year with 11 home runs, 37 RBI and 27 runs. She had an on-base percentage of .611 with a 1.115 slugging percentage. The slugger finished the 2012 campaign leading Team USA in six offensive statistical categories including: runs scored, RBI, home runs, slugging percentage, on-base percentage and walks.

In his third stint with the USA Men’s Slow Pitch National Team, Dennis Rulli helped the Americans extend their Border Battle record to 3-1 over the Canadians with a 32-21 win in 2012. The infielder finished the game going four-for-five with two home runs, four RBI and three runs scored.

“It’s a tremendous honor to be named the USA Softball Male Athlete of the Year for 2012,” said Rulli. “Without supportive teammates, sponsors and family I would have never had this opportunity. After 24 years of playing slow pitch, it’s still a very exciting and humbling sport and I’m very thankful to the ASA and USA Softball for such an unforgettable experience playing for Team USA.”

In four games with the USA Slow Pitch Team in 2012 Rulli went 14-of-18 from the plate for a .778 batting average and scored 13 runs. The California native hit five home runs and two doubles while picking up 10 RBI.

In November, Jerlin Rutt led the 2012 USA Softball Junior Men’s National Team to its best finish at an ISF World Championship in 27 years. The squad went 5-3 to take fifth place overall in the event. Rutt finished with a 4-2 record and a 2.52 ERA from the circle.

“I had a wonderful experience playing with the USA Junior Men’s National Team this past year,” said Rutt. “I’m honored to be named the Junior Men’s Player of the Year but the success that we had in Argentina was a team effort. I want to thank my family and teammates for the support that have given me.”

The right hander from Pennsylvania struck out 38 batters in 33.1 innings pitched during the tournament. He threw complete games in five of his six outings and run-ruled opponents in three of the contests. Rutt’s most impressive game came in a pool-play matchup with a powerful New Zealand team. Jerlin began the game with three-consecutive shutout innings, giving the American bats time to take a three-run advantage. New Zealand managed to put four runs on the board in the latter innings of the game but Team USA got two more runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to take the win and guarantee themselves a first-round bye in the playoffs.

The 2013 season for the USA Softball National teams program will kick off this weekend as the Men's National team take the field wearing the Red, White and Blue in Altamonte Springs, Fla. January 17-20. Visit www.usasoftball.comfor updates and results. The 2013 season for the Women's National team program will be announced at a later date.