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Softball: Arioto’s 2-run walk-off HR in bottom of 7th lifts Bears past ASU; Cal close to Pac-12 title

Pleasanton’s Valerie Arioto’s two-run, walk-off home run with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning carried No. 1 Cal (49-3, 20-2 Pac-12) to a 4-2 win over No. 2 Arizona State (45-6, 17-3) to open their three-game series at Levine-Fricke Field in Berkeley.

The Bears can clinch their first outright Pac-12 title since 1987 and likely the No. 1 overall seed for the NCAA tournament with a win over the Sun Devils on Friday afternoon.

ASU led 2-0 before Cal scored twice in the bottom of the sixth on consecutive bases-loaded walks to Danielle Henderson and Victoria Jones to tie the score.

In the seventh, Jamia Reid led off with a bunt single and scored when Arioto hit the second pitch for a homer, pushing her single-season school-record total to 22.  

Arioto has 53 career home runs, just two off the all-time record held by Veronica Nelson (2000-03). She also has 183 career RBIs, eight shy of the school record.

Junior Jolene Henderson struck out eight and posted the victory, improving her record to 30-1.

Friday’s game begins at 3 p.m. The teams close the regular season Saturday with a noon game.

The NCAA tournament field will be announced Sunday at 7 p.m. on ESPNU.

 

Jeff Faraudo