A month after the highly-favored Cal softball team failed to win the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City, Valerie Arioto is redeeming herself in the same venue for a different team: Team USA.
With three home runs in two days, Arioto has led the U.S. national softball team to the final of the World Cup of Softball at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium, a championship within reach after her top-seeded Cal team fell short of another final in the same venue four weeks earlier.
Unlike in the Women’s College World Series, where Cal’s most potent offensive threat was repeatedly walked so teams would avoid facing her, international teams haven’t had as much success containing Arioto.
In Team USA’s Friday 3-1 win over Australia, Arioto put her team on the board with a solo home run, giving the squad a lead it wouldn’t relinquish. The next day against Netherlands, Arioto hit the go-ahead home run, breaking a 1-1 tie in the bottom of the sixth with her second home run of the tourney.
Arioto also homered in her team’s Saturday rout of Canada, knocking in four runs in a 9-0 win. Team USA has won all five of its games by a combined margin of 31-2.
Cal sophomore Britt Vonk’s Netherlands squad was eliminated Sunday in a 4-0 loss to Australia.
Team USA will take on Australia in the final Monday night at 8 p.m. Since falling to Japan in the World Cup final in 2005, Team USA has won five consecutive championships, excluding the 2008 Olympics final, which was won by Japan.
Softball will not be a sport at the 2012 London Olympics.