Arioto, Boyd Named Top Three Finalists

OKLAHOMA CITY - CALIFORNIA senior utility player Valerie Arioto and ARIZONA STATE senior shortstop Katelyn Boyd are among the top 3 finalists for the 2012 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Award, the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) of America and USA Softball announced Wednesday. The third finalist is Oklahoma junior pitcher Keilani Ricketts. Arioto, Boyd or Ricketts would be the first to win this award from each of their schools.

The award, which is considered the most prestigious honor in Division I women's collegiate softball, is designed to recognize outstanding athletic achievement by female collegiate softball players across the country.

The 2012 Pac-12 Player of the Year, Valerie Arioto currently ranks eleventh in the country with a 1.32 ERA,  third with a .968 slugging percentage and second  with a .641 on-base percentage. The senior's 22 home runs rank sixth nationally and she is forth in the country in runs with 64. Arioto leads the NCAA in walks with 87 which is 26 more than second place. In California'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 Sun Devils. Valerie was the only two-time recipient of the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Week award this season. The No. 1 California Golden Bears will take on No. 18 Washington this weekend for the opportunity to advance to the NCAA Women's College World Series (WCWS) in Oklahoma City, May 31-June 6.
 
A significant contributor to Arizona State, Katelyn Boyd was named to the Pac-12 First Team as well as the league's overall Batting Champion. The senior is currently second in the NCAA with 72 total runs on the year and fifth with a .571 on-base percentage.  Boyd's .444 batting average is seventh best in the country and she ranks 12th nationally with 19 home runs. Including postseason, the senior infielder has started in all 57 games played. No. 2 Arizona State will meet up with No. 10 Louisiana-Lafayette this weekend in Tempe, Ariz., for Super Regionals with the winner advancing to the WCWS.

The winner of the 2012 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Award will be announced on May 29 at the athlete only banquet just prior to the 2012 WCWS.

Pac-12 athletes have received the honor four times, with Stanford senior shortstop Ashley Hansen winning the award last year. Other Conference recipients are UCLA catcher Stacey Nuveman (2002) and Washington pitcher Danielle Lawrie (2009, 2010).

The USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award is voted on by coaching representatives from 11 Division I Conferences in the 15 ASA Regions as well as members of the media who consistently cover Division I Softball across the country, and previous Player of the Year recipients.

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