Feb. 14, 2012
BERKELEY - Not only did her California softball team move to the No. 1 spot in the ESPN.com/USA Softball national poll, senior Valerie Arioto is this week's USA Softball national player of the week and the Pac-12 Conference player of the week.
Returning to the diamond after redshirting the 2011 season while recovering from a broken leg, Arioto is already back to pacing the Bears on offense - leading the team with nine RBI as well as a 1.444 slugging percentage and .444 batting average as Cal opened the season 4-0.
"It's really great to be back on the field with my teammates!" Arioto said. "Their hard work and enthusiasm is contagious and makes me want to get better!"
Both accolades are the first of Arioto's career while the Pac-12 laurel was the 71st all-time for Cal.
Arioto hit a homer in her very first at-bat of her redshirt senior season and went on to hit three homers, drive in a team-high nine RBI, slug 1.444, hit .444 and put up a 0.00 ERA in seven innings of work.
"She had an outstanding weekend for her first outing since her injury and has not lost a step in her play," Cal head coach Diane Ninemire said. "It's really great to have her back on our team and adding extra hitting, defense and pitching."
After not pitching since June 2010, Arioto pitched a complete-game shutout over Bradley. Arioto limited the Braves to just a .091 batting average with two hits. She struck out a weekend-high 11 opposing batters and only allowed three walks.
In the first game of the year, against No. 9 Tennessee, Arioto homered in her very first at-bat to give the Bears an early 1-0 lead. Later in that same game, Arioto cleared two fences with her second homer of the game and season. The Bears went on to win that game - their biggest opening day in recent history no less - 13-5 over Tennessee.
Against Texas State, Arioto hit the ball so hard that it went over three fences and landed on an adjacent practice field, driving in three runs. Later in that same game, Arioto drove in her ninth RBI of the weekend with a sac fly.