Feb. 15, 2012
BERKELEY - Senior Valerie Arioto's week keeps getting better and better. Her California softball team rose to the No. 1 spot in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll, she was named the USA Softball national player of the week and the Pac-12 Conference's player of the week, and now she is one of 30 softball student-athletes chosen as candidates for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award.
To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be a 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.
Arioto in the Classroom - Including academic achievements, major/concentration, graduation date, career interests:
Arioto completed all of her degree requirements a semester early, enjoying graduation exercises in December. Arioto is majoring in American studies with an emphasis in social and cultural history of technology and entertainment and is considering a career in the media, event planning or marketing. She was the Student-Athlete of the Month for January 2012.
Arioto's Character - Examples of leadership, overcoming obstacles, teamwork, work ethic, integrity, etc.:
On the second day of spring practice of her true senior year, Arioto broke her leg sliding into second base and sat out the entire season. Though she could not play, that did not stop Arioto from participating. All the while rehabbing her leg, she attended every practice and every road trip. Though at first the injury was devastating, Arioto found ways to contribute whether it was a piece of advice to a fellow pitcher, lending her voice to a cheer or even something as simple as a high five, she was there for her teammates. Following the conclusion of one of the most epic seasons in Cal softball, Arioto headed straight for tryouts with the U.S. senior national team. Despite not having played softball in six months, she successfully made the team and played all summer with the USA.
Arioto in the Community - Individual and team community involvement and charitable activities utilizing status as a college athlete to make an impact in worthwhile causes:
Valerie Arioto has played an integral role in the team's adopting of a little girl, Bebe, with pediatric cancer through the Friends of Jaclyn. The Friends of Jaclyn Foundation (FOJ) is a non-profit, charitable organization that improves the quality of life for children with pediatric brain tumors and their families. Val and her teammates have had Bebe out to games and recently threw her and her family a holiday party. Valerie has also volunteered her time at Special Olympics softball clinics, served lunches to the homeless of San Francisco, sponsored local families every Christmas and participated in multiple 5Ks in honor of former Cal student-athlete Jill Costello, who passed away from lung cancer at the age of 22.
Arioto's Competition - Achievements on the field during collegiate career:
As a junior in 2010, Arioto was named a first team All-American and placed on the All-Pac-10 first team. In 2010, she was fourth in the Pac-10 and 31st in the nation with 19 homers and second in the nation and first in the conference with 81 walks. Additionally, her .819 slugging percentage place her first on the Cal team, second in the Pac-10 and 11th in the country. Arioto paced the Bears in walks (81), homers (19) and runs (61). She also went 21-9 in the circle with a 1.43 ERA in 205.2 innings of work, allowing her batters to hit just .169. As a sophomore in 2009, she was a second-team Eason All-American, third-team NFCA All-American and first-team All-Pac-10 and All-Pacific Region selection. She was the second-leading hitter on the team, posting a .325 average with a .425 on-base percentage. As a freshman in 2008, she made the All-Pac-10 second team and NFCA All-Pacific Region second-team selection.
About the Award:
The 2012 candidate class includes six CoSIDA Capital One Academic All-Americans from last season and 12 student-athletes with cumulative grade point averages of 3.5 or higher. Three candidates were Louisville Slugger/National Fastpitch Coaches Association first-team All-Americans in 2011, 13 candidates are on teams ranked in the ESPN.com/USA Softball preseason top 25, and five participated in last year's NCAA Women's College World Series®.
Lowe's, an official Corporate Partner of the NCAA, will announce the Senior CLASS Award® winner during the 2012 NCAA Women's College World Series, which will be held May 31-June 6 in Oklahoma City.
The 30 candidates will be narrowed to 10 finalists midway through the regular season, and those 10 names will be placed on the official ballot. Ballots will be distributed through a nationwide voting system to media, Division I head coaches and fans who will select one finalist who best exemplifies excellence in the four Cs of community, classroom, character and competition.
Softball CLASS Award Candidates: