The top-ranked Cal women’s softball team swept the major Pac-12 Conference awards, with senior Valerie Arioto winning Player of the Year, junior Jolene Henderson earning Pitcher of the Year and Diane Ninemire named Coach of the Year.
Jolene and Danielle Henderson have World Series ambitions
A three-time all-conference pick, Arioto (Foothill High-Pleasanton) is the first Cal player named Pac-12 Player of the Year. She leads the Pac-12 with a 1.22 earned run average, 22 home runs, a 1.000 slugging percentage and .626 on-base percentage.
In Cal’s title-clinching wins over Arizona State last weekend, Arioto hit a walk-off game-winning home run in the seventh inning of the first game, then pitched a shutout the next day.
Arioto on winning the award (courtesy of Cal athletics): “This is a great accomplishment to end my senior year in Pac-12 play! The success of my team has played a huge role in helping me get this award!”
Henderson is 30-2 with a 1.22 ERA and a repeat winner of the Pitcher of the Year award. She and Arioto are both finalists for USA Collegiate Softball Player of the Year honors.
Henderson on winning the award: “This is really cool and shows how hard my team has worked this year. 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.”
Ninemire has guided the Bears to a 50-4 record and overall No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, which begins Friday. In her 25th season as Cal’s coach, she also won the award in 1991.
Senior outfielder Jamia Reid joined Arioto and Henderson on the first team. She is a three-time selection.
Frani Echavarria and Jace Williams were honorable mentioned selections.
Three Cal players — Danielle Henderson, Cheyenne Cordes and Breana Kostreba — were chosen to the all-freshman team.
UCLA’s Stephany LaRosa was named Freshman of the Year and Stanford’s Ashley Hansen, a four-time all-conference pick, earned Defensive Player of the Year honors.