OKLAHOMA CITY – Valerie Arioto (Pleasanton, Calif.) has been named the 2013 USA Softball Female Athlete of the Year for the second consecutive year while Matt Palazzo (Pleasant Hill, Iowa) was selected as the USA Softball Male Fast Pitch Athlete of the Year and Brian Wegman (Hamilton, Ohio) the USA Softball Male Slow Pitch Athlete of the Year, the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) of America and USA Softball announced today.
In her third year with the USA Softball Women’s National Team, infielder Arioto showed why she’s considered one of the best in the game. The 24-year-old saw action in 22 games and helped lead Team USA to Silver in the General Tire World Cup of Softball, a Bronze at the Canadian Open Fast Pitch International and Gold at the Pan-American Games/World Championship qualifier in San Juan, Puerto Rico this past summer.
"This is such a humbling honor to be named the USA Softball Female Athlete of the Year,” said Arioto. “The knowledge I have accumulated from working with the USA Softball staff and my teammates has been a blessing and they have made me better!"
The Cal-Berkeley alum batted .404 on the year with five home runs, 23 RBI and 18 runs scored. She compiled an astonishing .606 on-base percentage and an .830 slugging percentage.
In the field, Arioto recorded just one error in her 22 outings. The slugger also saw time in the pitching circle where she went 2-0 and allowed just two runs on eight hits in 11.2 innings for a 1.24 ERA.
On the men’s side, power hitter Palazzo led the USA Softball Men’s Fast Pitch National Team in hitting at the 2013 International Softball Federation (ISF) World Championships to earn the USA Softball Male Fast Pitch Player of the Year title. Palazzo was successful in 10 of his 18 at-bats during the World Championships to amass a .556 batting average. He totaled 10 runs, four doubles, and four home runs as well as eight RBI in the event.
“It’s truly an honor to be recognized as the USA Softball Male Fast Pitch Player of the Year,” said Palazzo. “ASA/USA Softball does a great job of promoting our sport and I appreciate the confidence they haveve shown in me to invite me to participate on the National Team over the past few years. There’s nothing like representing your country in the sport that you love.”
One of only four athletes who have appeared on all five USA Softball Men’s Slow Pitch National Teams, Brian Wegman earned his first USA Softball Male Slow Pitch Athlete of the Year honor in 2013. Wegman, along with the USA Softball Slow Pitch National Team, went 4-0 on the year including a 25-10, five inning run rule over Canada in the fifth annual Border Battle and a 32-16 (five inning) victory over the USA Softball Slow Pitch Futures Team in the second annual Slow Pitch Showdown.
In his four games with the USA Slow Pitch National Team Wegman went 14-of-15 from the plate for a.933 batting average and scored 14 runs. The Ohio native hit five home runs and three doubles on his way to recording 13 RBI.
Wegman also earned MVP honors in the 2013 ASA Super Slow Pitch Championship playing with tournament champions Hortenbach Auto/Easton. Wegman went 12-for-17 in the tournament for a .706 average with six home runs, 13 RBI and 14 runs scored. Wegman also collected MVP honors at the Men's Class A Slow Pitch National Championship where he hit .900 (18-for-20) with eight home runs, 19 RBI and 19 runs scored.
Visit www.usasoftball.com for updates on all USA Softball National Team programs throughout the 2014 season.