The “belly-itcher” in the well-known ballyard chant was nowhere to be found on Tuesday afternoon – just two great pitchers – as the Berkeley High softball team took on league powerhouse Livermore at James Kenney Park.
Berkeley’s Lilli Bermeo pitched a complete seven innings, striking out eight Cowboys, but it was Livermore’s all-league starting pitcher, Jen Graver, who stole the show. Graver shut down a BHS offense that scored 16 runs last Thursday against Monte Vista, striking out four Yellowjackets on the way to a shutout victory. Bermeo allowed a handful of earned runs in front of an unusually error-prone defense, and the Cowboys left Berkeley with a comfortable 8-0 triumph.
“Livermore is one of the top teams in the league. The first time we played them, we got no hits at all,” said Bermeo, who managed a double against the highly-touted Graver, who is headed to Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo on a softball scholarship next season. “We’re hitting pretty well now. We stuck with them.”
“Last time we played them we didn’t get on base,” agreed BHS coach Elena Bermeo. “We got on base six times today, and even had two or three girls in scoring position – that’s definitely a huge improvement.”
Livermore’s Danielle Cuellar anchored the Cowboys’ offensive effort, teeing off on Bermeo pitches for a double and a triple. Candice Brook also managed a pair of extra-base hits, drilling two doubles en route to two runs scored.
“This is the No. 1 team, they have a lot of titles under their belts,” the Berkeley High coach said about Tuesday’s opponent. “They go to hitting coaches and have a batting cage. We’ve never beaten Livermore in four seasons, playing them twice a year. The girls wanted this one, especially the seniors.”
According to the BHS players, Tuesday’s shutout loss will not be a setback for the squad, which continues East Bay Athletic League play at Granada High on Thursday. At 2-9 in league, the ’Jackets hope to close out the final three games of the season with at least one victory.
“Every team we play in the second half (of the season), we’ll get better. Now we’ve seen all the pitchers,” BHS third-baseman Emily Friedman said. “I definitely think we can take (May 18 opponent) Cal High – they’re really not as intense a team (as Livermore). We can play with them, especially with our pitching.”
“(California High) is one that’s beatable, but there are no easy teams in this league,” Elena Bermeo added. “On any given day, any given team can really do anything.”
Thursday’s game begins at 3:45 p.m. at the Matadors’ home field.