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Softball: Former Cal star Valerie Arioto up for big award

Former Cal softball star Valerie Arioto was named a finalist for the Women’s Sports Foundation’s Sportswoman of the Year, it was announced Monday.

Arioto (2008-12) was selected in the team category for her achievements with Team USA over a one-year period that ended July 31.

Arioto, from Pleasanton, helped the U.S. squad to a silver-medal finish at the International Softball Federation’s World Championships in Haarlem, Netherland, batting .474 with five home runs, 14 RBIs and 12 runs scored.

Sportswoman of the Year award winners will be determined by a combination of public vote (50 percent) and the WSF’s Awards Committee’s vote (50 percent). The winners will be the two athletes – one individual sport finalist and one team sport finalist – who receive the highest combined share of a public vote and the Awards Committee vote.

Fans can visit  http://wspr.tc/VoteTeamSOY201 to cast their vote for the Sportswoman of the Year award through 11:59 p.m. ET on Sept. 8.

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Softball: Bears bow out of NCAA regionals

The Cal women’s softball team was eliminated from the postseason on Sunday after a 3-1 loss to host Michigan in the NCAA Ann Arbor Regional.

The Bears (38-19) fell behind 2-0, got one run back when Cheyenne Cordes homered in the third, but never could catch the No. 7 Wolverines (48-10).

The Bears, coming out of the losers bracket, needed to beat UM twice Sunday to advance to the Super Regionals.

Jolene Henderson allowed seven hits and struck out six in the loss, and her sister Danielle Henderson had two hits.

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Softball: Henderson’s no-hitter keeps Cal alive

Senior Jolene Henderson powered Cal to a 6-0 win over Valparaiso (35-27) on Saturday afternoon, keeping the Bears alive in the Ann Arbor Regional of the NCAA tournament.

Cal (38-18) plays Sunday against No. 7 Michigan (47-10), which beat the Bears 5-0 earlier in the day. The Bears must beat the Wolverines twice to win the Regional and advance to the Super Regional round next week.

Cal is 7-2 all-time vs. Michigan, but the Wolverines have won the past two meetings, including Saturday’s matchup.

Henderson struck out seven, walked no one and allowed just one baserunner (on an error) in her seven-inning gem. It was her fourth career no-hitter.

Victoria Jones drove in two runs for the Bears and Khala Taylor had three hits.

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Softball: Bears blanked by Michigan at NCAAs

Cal lost 5-0 to host Michigan in a second-round winners-bracket game at the NCAA tournament Ann Arbor Regional on Saturday and will play at 2:30 p.m. PDT against either Central Michigan or Valparaiso.

The Bears (37-18) committed three errors and allowed the No. 7 Wolverines three unearned runs and now find themselves one defeat away from postseason elimination. Ashley Decker had two hits for Cal.

Lauren Sweet hit a pair of home runs for Michigan (47-10) and sophomore Sara Driesenga scattered five hits and struck out eight to win her 28th game of the season.

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Softball: Henderson sisters power Bears

Sophomore Danielle Henderson hit two home runs and senior Jolene Henderson pitched a two-hitter, lifting the Bears (37-17) to an 8-1 win over Central Michigan in their NCAA Ann Arbor (Mich.) Regional opener.

Cal plays a winners-bracket game Saturday against No. 7 Michigan (46-10), which beat Valparaiso 5-0.

Victoria Jones and Lindsey Ziegenhirt also homered for Cal.

Jolene Henderson struck out eight and allowed one unearned run. She is expected to face Michigan sophomore Sara Driesenga, who pitched her own two-hitter and struck out six against Valparaiso.

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Softball: Bears chosen to NCAA regional

A year after earning a No. 1 seed for the NCAA tournament, the Cal softball team (36-17) was placed in a regional at Ann Arbor, Mich., its 28th consecutive trip to the NCAAs — the longest active streak in the country.

The Bears open play Friday against Central Michigan (33-18) at 4:30 p.m. The game will be shown on ESPN3. Also in the Ann Arbor regional are eighth-seeded Michigan (45-10) and Valparaiso (34-25).

The winner of the Michigan regional advances to play a best-of-three series against the winner of the LSU regional, featuring LSU, Central Connecticut, Louisiana-Lafayette and Northwestern State. 

Cal is aiming for its third straight College World Series bid.

Eight Pac-12 teams were included in the 64-team NCAA field, topped by conference champion and No. 3 seed Oregon and fifth-seeded Arizona State. ASU opens at home against San Jose State.

Stanford also claimed a spot in the event, and will open against Tulsa at Lincoln, Neb.

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Softball: Henderson breaks career wins mark

Senior Jolene Henderson became the winningest pitcher in Cal softball history, posting her 120th career victory in the Bears’ 4-1 win over Utah at Levine-Fricke Field.

Henderson passed U.S. Olympian Michele Granger, who won 119 games for the Bears from 1990-93.

“We’ve had a number of All-American pitchers here at Cal that have pitched at the Olympic level and the USA level, and here comes Jolene and she has now broken the mark to be the all-time winningest pitcher,” Cal coach Diane Ninemire said. “That is a phenomenal accomplishment by a great player and a great team player.”

Henderson struck out five, walked one and allowed five hits and one earned run against the Utes. Her season earned run average is 0.94.

Her current career record is 120-26 with a 1.22 ERA. In 972 innings, she has struck out 1,016 batters.

“The best part about it,” Henderson said, “is that my team has won all these games. I’ve never won a game all by myself but Cal has had so many people put in so much energy in to all these wins in all these four years. It all plays a part.”

Granger, who won an Olympic gold medal in 1996 at Atlanta, was 119-52 at Cal with an 0.46 ERA and a then-NCAA record 1,640 strikeouts. She pitched 25 no-hitters, including five perfect games. 

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Softball: Ex-Bear Arioto earns big honor

Former Cal star Valerie Arioto of Pleasanton was named 2012 USA Softball Female Athlete of the Year.

Arioto, 23, helped lead the USA team to the World Cup Championship and Silver medal finishes in the Canadian Open Championship and International Softball Federation (ISF) Women’s World Championship. Arioto was named the Batting MVP of the Canadian Open
Championship after finishing the event with five home runs and 13 RBI.

“I’m so honored to be named 2012 USA Softball Female Athlete of the Year,” Arioto said. “The supported I’ve received from my family, my Team USA family and my Cal family has been tremendous and I wouldn’t be where I am without their help.”

With the USA team, Arioto batted .462 on the year with 11 home runs, 37 RBI and 27 runs. She had an on-base percentage of .611 with a 1.115 slugging percentage.

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Softball: No. 1 Bears eliminated by Tide

Cal softball coach Diane Ninemire has said her 2012 Golden Bears are the most talented team she’s coached in 25 years. She also said it remained to be seen whether they could match the 2002 squad, which won the school’s only NCAA championship in the sport.

The top-seeded Bears (58-7) came up short of that goal Sunday, losing 5-2 to No. 2 seed Alabama (58-7) in an elimination game at the College World Series.

Cal’s dream season is over, three wins shy of their goal.

The Crimson Tide hit three home runs off Jolene Henderson (38-4), who was the best pitcher in the Pac-12 all season but was not at her best in Oklahoma City.

Freshman Danielle Henderson hit a two-run homer for the Bears — her 16th — but Cal got just one other hit.

In fact, the Bears’ offense failed to do its part in both CWS defeats, totaling four hits against Oklahoma and Alabama. The Bears averaged 3.25 runs in four CWS games, less than half its season output.

Senior slugger Valerie Arioto, the Pac-12 Player of the Year, drew seven walks at the Series, but otherwise was 0 for 7 at the plate.

Meanwhile, No. 4 seed Oklahoma (53-8) posted a 5-3 win over No. 3 Arizona State, eliminating the Sun Devils and denying the Pac-12 a spot in the championship series for the first time after 26 years.

 – RUGBY: The Bears won the bronze medal at the Collegiate Rugby Championship 7s tournament in Philadelphia. Cal beat Life University 26-7 at PPL Park in the third-place game after losing 21-19 to Dartmouth in the semifinals. The Bears opened the day with a 54-5 win over Texas in the quarterfinals.

The Bears finished the tournament with a 5-1 record and a plus-130 scoring margin.