Two Cal Softball alumni took a big step on Monday toward becoming first time Olympians in 2020. Both Valerie Aritoto (class of 2012) and Jazmyn Jackson (class of 2018) were named to the 2019 USA Softball women’s team. They will both represent Team USA, the No.1 ranked squad in the world, in several small tournaments this year as tune-ups for the 2020 Tokyo games.
The 18 person roster will be cut down to 15 person by the end of the year for the Pan American games. 15 is also the roster size for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games (although the 3 players cut from the roster are almost guaranteed to be alternates - who will get to travel to the Olympic games but not get medals with the rest of the squad).
Slugger Arioto has been a mainstay on Team USA even before she graduated from Cal. She played a big role last year in helping USA to qualify for the 2020 Olympic games. While international softball has lost a lot of its luster since it was dropped from the Olympics after 2008, Val Arioto has been leading the world in homers in International competitions during that stretch (Okay, I cannot really find that stat anywhere on the Internet, but I am fairly certain that’s true). Just this past summer, Arioto had a 3 homer game to help Team USA to win the International Cup of Softball.
While Softball was not a part of the 2016 Rio games, Arioto had a particularly great World Championship that year, hitting .611 with 7 HR, 18 RBI and 11 runs scored (stats from her Team USA bio).
At Cal, Arioto was a two-way player, playing both 1st base while also being a very dependable co-ace starter for head coach Diane Ninemire. Arioto was named the Pac-12 Player of the Year in her senior season. That year, she set both a Cal and then Pac-12 single season record with 22 homers in the regular season (which was a homer every 5 at bat) while also contributing a 20-2 record in the circle with an ERA of 1.22. Arioto won the CLASS award that year thanks in part to the CGB community helping with the fan voting. Arioto missed the 2011 season, but had a great 2010 season both with the USA national team and also with Cal (19 homers).
When not with Team USA, Varioto is working as the Director of Operations for the University of South Florida softball team. The head coach for USF Softball is also the head coach for Team USA softball in Ken Eriksen.
Recent graduate Jazmyn Jackson is now working as an assistant coach at Howard University in DC. The versatile player has both the bat control to play the slap game but also has gap power. At Cal, Jackson is able to play both center field or short stop (and sometimes 3rd base) with great defensive prowess. Jackson also has previous experiences with Team USA including teaming up with Arioto to cause havoc in that 2016 World Championship, hitting .591 (13-for-22) with 8 RBI and 6 runs scored in that tournament (stats from her Team USA bio). At Cal, Jackson has twice earned Pac-12 First Team honor and Second Team honor in her other two years.
Having 2 Bears on the Team USA roster put Cal in elite company. Only 4 schools can boast having multiple members on Team USA. Recent Cal Softball senior Kamalani Dung has the breakdown below. Cal is tied with Oklahoma with 2 alumni on the roster, just 1 behind UCLA and 2 behind Florida.
Schools represented on the 2019 USA softball roster:— KAMALANI DUNG (@KAMADUNG) January 8, 2019
Congratulations to the two Cal Bears alum. We look forward to them to shine in the various tournaments this and next year, particularly on the biggest stage when softball is back as an Olympic sport in the 2020 Tokyo games.