NORTHEAST GLENDALE — In its quest to win the program's first Horizon League championship, the Holy Family softball team has a luxury in having two capable starting pitchers who might help it arrive there.
Just two games into league and Elena Lomeli and Rachel Turner have proved how valuable they are to the Gaels.
Lomeli took her turn in the circle and struck out seven and scattered five hits to spark Holy Family to a 7-1 league victory against Bishop Conaty-Loretto on Thursday afternoon at the Glendale Sports Complex.
After Turner struck out 12 in the Gaels' 3-0 league win against L.A. Sacred Heart of Jesus on Tuesday at the Glendale Sports Complex, Lomeli followed suit with a gem of her own.
"I know my role as a pitcher," said Lomeli, a junior. "I try to go out there and get strikeouts and popups and take the pressure off my defense.
"It's mental mostly. If Rachel can do it, so can I. It's good to be 2-0 in league and get off to a good start with us playing San Gabriel Mission [next Tuesday]."
Holy Family Coach Greg Ziomek, whose team finished with nine hits, said the Gaels have benefitted from having two confident pitchers.
"We've alternated our pitchers so far because they are two who are qualified," said Ziomek, whose team improved to 3-3 overall. "Both of them have been on in our first two league games and we are beating the teams we need to beat.
"The big [league] games for us will be San Gabriel Mission and Alverno. You don't know what's going to happen, but we didn't want to be 1-1 or 0-2 going into those games.
"Elena got ahead in most of the counts and stayed ahead. She got the first pitch in for a strike and that puts pressure on the batter. She's been exceptional at that."
Lomeli caught a break in the top of the first inning. With one out and a runner on second base, Andrea Navarro singled to center. Center fielder Gaby Diaz tossed the ball to shortstop Ashlee Sandoval, who made a perfect relay to catcher Jennifer Rodriquez, who blocked the plate perfectly and tagged out Jasmine Garcia.
Holy Family fared well at the plate against the Wildcats (3-4, 0-2).
The Gaels took a 1-0 lead in their half of the first on a grounder by Sandoval that scored Lomeli, who led off with a single before stealing second and third. Holy Family made it 2-0 in the second on a grounder by Samantha Deharo to score Rodriguez, who hit a lead-off double and stole third.
A Rodriguez single drove in Aurora Aguirre after Aguirre doubled to lead off the fourth. Turner came through with a two-run single in the fifth that drove in Diaz and Sandoval to extend the lead to 5-0. The Gaels got two more runs in the inning on a wild pitch and an error.
Holy Family made it 7-0 on a run-scoring single by Turner that plated Diaz, who singled and stole second.
Lomeli's bid for the shutout was foiled in the seventh when the Wildcats scored on a grounder.
Turner said the Gaels needed another quality effort Thursday.
"It's really important for us to have won these first two league games," said Turner, who had a pair of hits. "It shows so far that we've been ready to play and try to get [the] league [title].
"We have to stay focused. It's going to take a lot of hard work to keep on winning."
Diaz finished with two hits and scored twice for the Gaels, who also got two hits from Rodriguez. Lomeli, Sandoval and Aguirre had one hit apiece.