July 26, 2011
OKLAHOMA CITY - With California softball standout Valerie Arioto racking up team-high 11 RBI at the 2011 World Cup of Softball, the United States took home gold medals at the tournament. The Americans defeated Japan, 6-4, in the championship game on Monday evening to claim first place, after opening the World Cup with a 4-1 record.
Arioto started all six games for the U.S. and was third amongst the starters with a .438 batting average in Oklahoma City. In addition pacing the Americans in RBI with 11 - 10 of which coming with two outs - she was second in slugging with an incredible 1.063. She made 31 putouts with three assists en route to a perfect fielding percentage at first base.
"The World Cup was a lot of fun," Arioto said. "The whole atmosphere and the fans were really energetic! winning the whole thing was a big deal for our team. We are really starting to gel as a team!"
In the championship game, Arioto was one of two players to drive in two runs. Earning just her second walk of the tournament in the first, the Pleasanton, Calif., native scored the first fun of the game, plating Rhea Taylor. The U.S. jumped to a 3-0 lead thanks to a single from Arioto that jumped down the right-field line.
Arioto was especially instrumental in the 5-2 win against Australia on July 22. With the game tied, 2-2, in the bottom of the sixth, Arioto hit a bases-clearing triple to right to put the Americans back on top for good at 4-2.
"I had little butterflies but it wasn't pressure," Arioto said of her RBI versus Australia. "It was something that I wanted to do. I wanted to be up at bat and be the one to do it. I just wanted to stay relaxed."
Earlier this summer, Arioto and incoming freshman Cheyenne Cordes both participated in a series of exhibition games that pit the National Team against the Futures national team. Prior to the World Cup of Softball, Arioto joined the senior squad for the Canadian Cup. In that tournament, the U.S. ultimately took second place after falling, 7-0, to Japan in the title game.
The future looks promising for Arioto, who sat out the 2011 season with an injury. As a junior in 2010, she played in all 63 games for the Golden Bears, leading the team walks (81), homers (19) and runs (61) in addition to going 21-9 in the circle with a 1.43 ERA in 205.2 innings of work, allowing her batters to hit just .169. She earned herself placement on the ASA Top-50, Top-25 and Top-10 watch lists. Arioto was also named to the Louisville Slugger/National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-American First Team and was placed on the All-Pac-10 first team.