NORTHEAST GLENDALE — Behind a dominant effort from pitcher Rachel Turner and just enough timely hitting, the Holy Family High softball team got its 2011 Horizon League campaign off to a solid start Tuesday.
The junior hurler limited visiting Sacred Heart of Jesus to three hits and struck out 12 batters to complete a 3-0 shutout at the Glendale Sports Complex.
"I was trying to keep focused, so [our team doesn't] lose focus and people don't score runs and nobody panics," Turner said. "It's really important [to get a win today] because if we didn't beat this team, we wouldn't be able to probably get into CIF.
"I'm glad that everybody pulled together and we were able to win."
Turner's outing wasn't spotless — the Comets (5-4, 0-2 in league) had runners in scoring position in the first, third and fourth innings — but the right-hander was able to pitch her way out of trouble effectively against a squad that has averaged over 18 runs per game in its wins this year, according to maxpreps.com.
"Even though they got some runners on, it was our pitching that kept getting us out of the jams," said Holy Family Coach Greg Ziomek, whose team (3-5) finished third in league last season. "Rachel Turner did a fine job."
From the second inning on, Turner had a lead to protect, thanks to a wild pitch to Ashlee Sandoval with runners at the corners in the bottom of the first that scored leadoff batter Elena Lomeli, who had reached on an error.
Sandoval would come through with a base hit through the middle of the infield to plate Gaby Diaz, who had bunted for a single, to give Holy Family a 2-0 lead.
But the Gaels wouldn't score again until the bottom of the fifth inning — when Sandoval came through with a two-out single to left field to score Lomeli — leaving the game in Turner's hands through much of the afternoon.
"We scored early and we scored late in the game," Ziomek said. "In between, it was dogfight."
Turner, who earlier stranded a Comets runner at third base to escape the first inning, issued a one-out walk in the third inning and had runners at second and third with two outs before ending the frame with a strikeout, the second straight inning in which she struck out the side.
In the fourth, Turner allowed a two-out single and an error on the play put the runner at second base, but she then induced a weak popup back to the circle to extinguish the last threat the Comets would mount.
Sandoval finished two for three on the day, while Mary Alvarado, Samantha Deharo, Aurora Aguirre and Jennifer Rodriguez all had hits for the Gaels.