Best Female Athlete: Valerie Arioto
Although Valerie Arioto is the Best Female Athlete of the Daily Cal’s spring sports awards, one could argue that Arioto may even deserve the title of Best Athlete, period.
Arioto has mashed all comers in her redshirt senior season after missing all of last season with a leg injury. Arioto has compiled a .414 average with 19 home runs, good for third in the country in the dinger department. Her on-base and slugging percentages, .627 and 1.040 respectively, each rank among the top three in the country as well. Plain and simple, Arioto has been one of, if not the best, hitter in the nation this year. Her offensive dominance in the middle of Cal’s lineup has propelled the Bears’ to a No. 1 national ranking, a 42-3 record and the inside track to a national championship run. Arioto has taken on a veteran role in the clubhouse, stepping up as one of the leaders on an incredibly competitive Cal team.
And as if her hitting weren’t ridiculous enough, Arioto has compiled an 18-2 record and 1.35 ERA on the mound, which ranks her among the best pitchers in the nation. The Bears have relied on Arioto to carry the defense and the offense against highly ranked teams, and she has stepped up to the challenge almost every time.
— Michael Rosen
Honorable Mention: Caitlin Leverenz
The most notable female Cal swimmer in program history is undoubtedly Natalie Coughlin. But if there was ever a swimmer that could match up to the legendary Olympian’s accolades, it would be Caitlin Leverenz.
Leverenz, a two-time individual NCAA Champion, has set numerous records at Cal and has earned a spot on the USA national team. This summer, Leverenz will likely be participating in the London Olympics. The junior’s ascension began early, when she earned Pac-10 Freshman/Newcomer of the Year honors in 2010. Since then, she has led the Bears to two team NCAA Championships, something that Coughlin never could do.
To add to Leverenz’s success, she won the Honda Sports Award for Swimming and Diving in 2012, affirming her status as the best female swimmer in the country.
— Karan Karia