May 16, 2012
BERKELEY - With the inaugural Pac-12 Championship and best conference finish in program history in hand, eight Golden Bears skyrocketed themselves to the All-Pac-12 Teams. Valerie Arioto earned Player of the Year laurels and Jolene Henderson repeated as the Pitcher of the Year, and head coach Diane Ninemire is the Pac-12 Coach of the Year.
Arioto, Henderson and Jamia Reid were all named to the All-Pac-12 First Team while Frani Echavarria, Danielle Henderson, Breana Kostreba and Jace Williams earned All-Pac-12 Honorable Mentions. Further rounding out the Cal contingent with placement on the All-Freshman Team were Cheyenne Cordes, Danielle Henderson and Kostreba.
Diane Ninemire - Coach of the Year:
This is the second Coach of the Year award for Ninemire after winning in 1991. In her 25th season with the Golden Bears, Ninemire led the team to its first outright Conference championship since 1987 and only its second overall. Cal tied for the Pac-10 Championship in 2005. Her squad has spent eight consecutive weeks atop both national polls. The Bears have also been No. 1 in at least one poll for 13 weeks. Cal is making its 28th NCAA Tournament appearance and 27th straight. Ninemire earned career win No. 1,100 on April 20, making her the 12th coach in the history of collegiate softball and sixth in Division I to reach the mark.
Valerie Arioto - Player of the Year and All-Pac-12 First Team:
The Pleasanton, Calif., native becomes the first Cal player to be named Pac-12 Player of the Year and the second conference player of the year in school history after Lisa Martinez, who earned the NorPac accolade in 1985. A three-time All-Pac-12 honoree, Arioto currently leads the Pac-12 with a 1.22 ERA, 1.000 slugging percentage, .626 on-base percentage and 22 home runs. She is also the NCAA leader with 1.37 walks per game (74 total).
"This is a great accomplishment to end my senior year in Pac-12 play!" Arioto said. "The success of my team has played a huge role in helping me get this award!"
In Cal's two wins over Arizona State to clinch the Pac-12 title, Arioto hit a walk-off home run in the first game and then pitched a shutout in the second game, striking out 11. She is a finalist for USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year and the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award.
Jolene Henderson - Pitcher of the Year and All-Pac-12 First Team:
Henderson earns Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year for the second straight season. Only the second Cal pitcher to receive the award after Kristina Thorson in 2006, Henderson is also a finalist for USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year. She has a 1.22 ERA to go with her 29-2 record this season.
"This is really cool and shows how hard my team has worked this year," Jolene Henderson said. "We'd never win a game if there weren't 20 of us working hard at practice and in our games with our coaches' support. My teammates have been amazing all year - defensively stellar and off the hook when it came to their bats."
In 211.2 innings of work, Henderson has struck out 249 batters and is holding opponents to a .191 batting average. The Elk Grove, Calif., native has been named Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week five times this spring.
Jamia Reid - All-Pac-12 First Team:
Reid has been a stalwart in the outfield for four years, and currently leads the Bears in hitting a .391. This year, she has driven in 12 runs and owns a .422 slugging percentage and a .403 on-base percentage.
"I am really honored to be getting this award," Reid said. "It just shows hard work pays off and making little adjustments is important. But I wouldn't be where I am as a player if it weren't for me team."
Frani Echavarria - All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention:
The starting center fielder for the Bears, Echavarria is second on the squad in on-base percentage (.465) and third in hitting (.362). She has 27 RBI to her name and was named to the Chevron Spring Fling All-Tournament Team.
Danielle Henderson - All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention and All-Freshman Team:
One look at Henderson's stats make it quite obvious why she's the starting third baseman for the No. 1 Bears as a freshman for she's hitting .299 with 14 homers, 41 RBI and has just two errors at the hot corner.
"It's really flattering to have received this award, and it's definitely encouragement to keep working hard," Danielle Henderson said. "But there's always room for improvement, and my team has definitely pushed me to keep improving. Therefore, this award should be given to the team for always persevering."
Breana Kostreba - All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention and All-Freshman Team:
The freshman out of Aptos, Calif., has merited 51 starts this year, either as designated player or in right field despite not being a natural outfielder. A surprisingly consistent hitter for a freshman, Kostreba is hitting .318 with 12 homers and 38 RBI.
"I'm honored and surprised," Kostreba said. "I never expected this award my freshman year."
Jace Williams - All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention:
After starting at third base last year, Williams seamlessly moved to second base. The team's most clutch hitter, Williams is second on the team with 31 walks and 43 RBI and is hitting .318.
"This is an honor for me and the Cal softball program," Williams said. "We've got our sights set on a ring."
Cheyenne Cordes - All-Freshman Team:
Revitalizing the infield, Cordes has started all 54 games at short, where she owns an incredible .960 fielding percentage. A keen eye at the plate, Cordes has walked 28 times, has six homers, 30 RBI, a .275 batting average and a .442 slugging percentage.
"I'm shocked, thankful and honored to be selected," Cordes said. "I am happy to have been given the opportunity to play with such a great team. I'm just glad I was able to continue, and I am looking forward to the postseason."
Pac-12 Player of the Year:
Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year:
Pac-12 Coach of the Year: