May 23, 2012
California softball player Valerie Arioto -- the Pac-12 Player of the Year -- has been named one of three finalists for the USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year Award, as announced by the Amateur Softball Association of American and USA Softball on Wednesday.
College softball's top honor will go to either Arioto, Arizona State's Katelyn Boyd or Oklahoma's Keilani Ricketts. No matter which player takes home the hardware, it will be the first time a player from their respective schools has done so.
Arioto is currently 11th in the nation with a 1.32 ERA, third with a .968 slugging percentage and second with a .641 on-base percentage. Her school-record-setting 22 home runs rank sixth in the country, and she's scoured 64 runs -- fourth-most in the nation. Arioto leads the NCAA in walks with 87 free passes -- 26 more than second place.
Arioto was the only two-time winner of the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Week award this season, and will lead the consensus No. 1 overall Bears into a Super Regional match-up this weekend at Levine-Fricke Field in Berkeley against a familiar Pac-12 foe in No. 18 Washington. If Cal wins out against the Huskies, the Bears will advance to the Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City from May 31-June 6, where the winner of the Player of the Year award will be announced on May 29 in an athlete-only banquet.
Cal takes on Washington in Game One of the Super Regional at 7 PM on Saturday, May 26, and on Sunday, May 27 at 4 PM, with a third game at 6:30 PM if necessary.
The Bears swept the Huskies in Berkeley during their regular-season three-game conference series on March 30 and April 1, appropriately enough, playing three games in two days -- the same format as the Super Regional.