Two-sport athlete finds success


Denis Perez / The Advocate

Comet pitcher Larissa Carvalho launches a pitch during the top of the fourth inning in Thursday’s 15-2 loss against Yuba College at the Softball Field.

By Efrain Valdez, Sports Editor

Being a successful athlete includes doing things that are not comfortable.

Teammates respect players who try a new sport or change an on-court or on-field position for the betterment of the team.

For two-sport athlete and The Advocate’s 2019 Female Athlete of the Year Larissa Carvalho, stepping up for her teammates is something she has done since high school.

At Contra Costa College, Carvalho played basketball for two years and softball for one season, when she took up pitching for the first time ever.

“The only reason I pitched was because Sav (Savana Spencer) was our best player and she helped the team out more at 3rd base,” Carvalho said.

She said she had played softball in high school but the sport did not catch her attention here until she sat and watched the baseball team practice.

“I stayed watching the team practice and it looked fun to me. Coach (Taylor) Harris had already asked me to play a few times, so I just showed up at softball practice one day and told them I was going to play,” Carvalho said.

Comet shortstop Jenna Husic said having her (Carvalho) step up and pitch for the team was huge because Spencer needed to rest her arm.

“She put the team first and really helped us out in trying to get a good result,” she said.

As a two-year basketball player at CCC, Carvalho managed to improve on her game a lot. She averaged 6.3 points and 10.2 rebounds a game in her freshman year (2017-18).

This year she improved in both statistical categories by averaging a double-double (12.8 points and 11.5 rebounds per game).

Women’s basketball coach Vince Shaw said she helped the team a lot with her size and ability to get over players on opposing teams.

“There were games this season that she realized she could just dominate. That light would turn on (in her head) and she did just that,” he said.

Despite being one of the better players on the team, Carvalho only started playing basketball her junior year of high school.

However, she had been pressured by the basketball coach at De Anza High School to play since her freshman year because of her size.

Carvalho said when she first started playing basketball she “sucked,” but she could rebound and score.

She said she enjoyed playing basketball a lot because it was a high scoring sport and because the score could swing 20 points either way.

“I am a die-hard soccer fan, being Brazilian,” Carvalho said. “That’s all I played as a kid. I played soccer at De Anza for the first couple of years, but since I was so tall (5-11), the basketball coach there had wanted me to play since my freshman year.”

She said she finally gave in to playing basketball her junior year.

“For awhile, I played soccer and basketball at the same time but I had to stop playing soccer because it became so taxing on my body,” she said.

Carvalho said Shaw walked into her old job at Foot Locker one day during one of her shifts and asked her if she was a basketball player. He invited her to come work out with the team at CCC.

Shaw said Carvalho continued to improve and mature throughout her two years at CCC.

“She continued to mature as a player and you were able to see that in her game,” he said.

Shaw said that by Carvalho having such a supportive family who always came out to games was something positive for her.

“Anytime you can have family out, it is a good thing,” he said.

Going through a five-win season this year was hard for Carvalho, but she said having her family support her during games really helped her get through some of tough times.

“Having my parents cheering me on when we were losing all the time really made feel better. They have always been so supportive of me,” she said.

Carvalho said she will attend Adams State University in Colorado this fall and will continue her basketball career there.