June 1, 2012
OKLAHOMA CITY - Three-time All-American Valerie Arioto of the University of California has been selected as the 2012 Lowe's Senior CLASS Award winner in NCAA® Division I softball. The announcement and trophy presentation were made today by Lowe's, an official corporate partner of the NCAA, during the NCAA Women's College World Series®.
The award, chosen by a nationwide vote of Division I softball head coaches, national media and fans, is given annually to the most outstanding senior student-athlete in NCAA Division I softball. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence - community, classroom, character and competition.
An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School®, the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities.
"I am honored to have won the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award. I am very grateful to have been included among so many other talented and giving student-athletes. This award means a lot to me because it's not just about success on the field," Arioto said. "While I have enjoyed my softball accomplishments and will never forget my experiences with my teammates, it's giving back to my community and the degree I received from the University of California that mean so much to me. My family, coaches and teammates have been instrumental in all of my success - both on and off the field. I was floored by the fan support, and my team and I would not be where we are without their continued devotion.
Arioto has already completed the requirements for her degree in American studies. She concentrated in the social and cultural history of technology and entertainment and is considering a career in media, event planning or marketing. Arioto has played an integral role in her team's adoption of a young girl through the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation, which improves the quality of life for children with pediatric brain tumors. In addition, she has volunteered for Special Olympics, served lunches to San Francisco's homeless, sponsored local families at Christmas and participated in races to honor former Cal student-athlete Jill Costello, who passed away from lung cancer at 22.
"Valerie is a tremendous person. Not only is she an outstanding softball player, but she's also a leader and a team player at the University of California and in her community," California head coach Diane Ninemire said. "She took it upon herself to collect thousands of toiletries to donate to those less fortunate and has always been very giving to others. She's a tenacious competitor on the field. She works all year round to be the best hitter, the best pitcher and the best fielder. Whatever Val does, she does it 110 percent the right way."
After sitting out last season with a broken leg, Arioto has returned to the Cal lineup to lead the Bears to the nation's top regular-season ranking and a No. 1 overall seed heading into the NCAA Division I Women's Softball Championship. She has already set the school and Pac-12 Conference single-season marks with 22 home runs. Through the regular season, Arioto has a 1.22 earned-run average and a 20-2 record as a pitcher while leading the squad in runs scored, runs batted in and home runs.
"The student-athletes selected as finalists for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award show great determination and perseverance in everything they do both on and off the field," said David Geren, Lowe's vice president of marketing. "Valerie is a great representative of this award and of student-athletes across the country."