Livermore High softball player Samantha Whalen pitched 14 solid innings and fielded her position beautifully in back-to-back games Friday at the 20th Livermore Stampede.
Whalen's efforts helped the host Cowboys earn a spot in the Championship Flight semifinals at 3 p.m. Saturday at Ernie Rodrigues Fields at Robertson Park. The championship game is at 7:15 p.m.
The Cowboys, who finished 2-1 in Pool C of the 16-team event, split games on a chilly, rainy day. After losing 4-2 against Rodriguez-Fairfield, Livermore played better defense in a 1-0 win over Vintage-Napa to nail down the semifinal spot.
The Cowboys and Cosumnes Oaks both finished with 2-1 records in pool play, but Livermore advanced to the Championship Flight based on a 7-3 win over the Wolfpack on Thursday.
Whalen pitched a seven-hitter against Rodriguez and a three-hitter against Vintage, and the former outfielder turned an impressive double-play on defense in each game.
"She pitched better in her second game than in her first," Livermore coach Larry Bird said. "We made errors in our first game. We weren't our team against Rodriguez. We have some young players, and so we're rebuilding, too. They have to build on experiences to teach them how to win."
Livermore sophomore Rachel LaRont produced the only run against Vintage in the first inning. She doubled, advanced on a passed ball and scored on Tayler Munoz's sacrifice fly.
Against Rodriguez, Livermore tied it 2-2 with two runs in the bottom of the first as Whalen had an RBI ground out and Missy Nunes an RBI single. But Rodriguez tacked on single runs in the third and sixth, and Livermore came up empty with runners in scoring position in the fourth, sixth and seventh.
The Cowboys had two defensive gems. In the fourth, freshman outfielder Mikendra Kramer made a diving catch on a sinking ball in shallow right field for the third out to save a run. In the fifth, Whalen caught a line drive and doubled the runner off first.
Livermore's rival, Granada, went 2-1 in pool play. The Matadors beat Sheldon-Sacramento 4-2 to improve to 2-0 in Pool C and but lost 12-1 to defending champion Archbishop Mitty-San Jose, which advanced to the Championship flight semifinals.
After a morning rain delay, Granada got a big win over Sheldon, as Kassidee Rusniak hit a two-run home run in the fourth inning. Lily Rebello and Kayla Fitzgerald also had RBIs. McKayla Saavedra was 2 for 2 with a run, and winning pitcher Jessica Johnston was 2 for 3.
Michelle Carew Classic: Alhambra and Amador Valley both won to advance to the championship semifinals of the Michelle Carew Classic in Anaheim. Alhambra beat Vista Murrieta 2-1 and Amador Valley topped Great Oak-Temecula 1-0.
Alhambra (11-1) trailed Vista Murrieta 1-0 but scored single runs in both the fifth and sixth innings on RBIs from KK Boyd and Kylie Perez. That was enough offense for pitcher Erin Enke, who allowed just four hits to Vista Murrieta (11-2). Alhambra will face Los Alamitos in Saturday's semifinals.
For Amador Valley, Johanna Grauer's one-hitter helped the Dons (10-0) beat the Wolfpack (7-7). Grauer struck out 11 with no walks, and Ashley Ann Balestreri scored from third on a wild pitch in the bottom of the sixth for the only run. Amador Valley will play Esperanza in the other semifinal.