Lauren ChamberlainBOGOTA, Colombia -The 2010-11 USA Softball Junior Women's National Team (7-0) advanced to the semifinal of the III Pan American Championship (18-Under) in Bogota, Colombia, with a 12-1 win over the Dominican Republic in four innings Friday. The top seeded Americans must top Puerto Rico, No. 1 Pool B, to earn a spot in Saturday’s championship game. 

Puerto Rico beat Brazil 4-0 Friday to advance to the 1 p.m. semifinal against the Red, White and Blue. In 2006, the last time that the Pan American Championship (18-Under) was held, the 2006-07 USA Softball Junior Women’s National Team defeated Puerto Rico 7-0 in a five inning championship game. 

Dallas Escobedo (Glendale, Ariz.) threw a two hitter against Dominican Republic, allowing a single up the middle to Yanela Gomez in the third and another single to Dharianna Familia in the fourth, to improve her record to 2-0. She also started the team’s first game against Colombia and pitched in relief against Argentina and Canada. 

“I was so excited that I was finally pitching today,” Escobedo said. “At first, I was not really feeling it and I did not know what was wrong. I was just not all there but I just shut that out. I hit my corners and prepared to do spins more than speed today.” 

She struck out nine batters to bring her tournament total to 18, the most of any American pitcher. 

“When the pressure is on, a lot of young pitchers have trouble throwing their best. That was not the case for Dallas,” Head Coach Karen Johns (Starkville, Miss.) said. “I was really impressed with her intensity in the circle. Even when she got behind on a few batters, she never backed down. She went for it on every pitch.” 

Escobedo was backed up by an offense that had 14 hits, including doubles from Lauren Chamberlain (Trabuco Canyon, Calif.) and Amber Freeman (Lakewood, Calif.) and an inside the park homerun from Chamberlain, her second long ball in Bogota. The team now has a combined 73 hits at the III Pan American Championship. 

“I was so happy that my team was there to back me up and just give me a good start in the first inning with two runs,” Escobedo said. “It always makes me more confident and relaxed on the mound when I have runs behind me.” 

Cheyenne Cordes (Fairfield, Calif.) singled in Hallie Wilson (North Tustin, Calif.), who reached on a walk, and Chamberlain, who doubled, to give the Americans the 2-0 advantage in the first. But on the same play where she drove in the runs, Cordes was caught in a rundown between first and second base for the third out. 

After Ally Carda (Elk Grove, Calif.) walked to start the fourth and Shelby Pendley (Albuquerque, N.M.) singled through the left side, Freeman advanced the runners with a sacrifice fly to left field. Escobedo singled down the left field line to make it 3-0. With a Lahners single, Pendley scored and Kourtney Salvarola (Arnold, Md.), pinch running for Escobedo, scored on an error. The next three runs scored on Chamberlain’s inside the park homer. 

“Dominican Republic’s pitching staff was throwing harder than most of the other pitchers that we have faced in Bogota,” Johns said. “Their starter Rosaury Perez was the best pitcher we have faced. Our batters did an excellent job adjusting.” 

With the Red, White and Blue ahead by eight runs, Lorena Guerrero entered the circle for the Dominican Republic. She allowed all three batters she faced to reach. After Shipman and Cordes singled, both scored when Carda singled, then advanced to third on an error. 

Danery Hernandez faced the final four American batters, allowing two hits, a single to Pendley that scored Carda and a Freeman double that scored Pendley. Salvarola popped up to centerfield and Cheyanne Tarango (Anaheim Hills, Calif.) struck out to end the inning. 

Dominican Republic made the board in the bottom of the fourth when Mabelis Sanchez scored on a wild pitch. Sanchez reached when she was hit by a pitch then advanced to third on an error. 

- Courtesy USA Softball

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