NORTHEAST GLENDALE — With a hand injury now in the past, Melanie Leyva zeroed in on the present in her attempt to improve her team's future prospects.
Leyva delivered a game-winning single in the bottom of the eighth inning to spark Holy Family's softball team to a 3-2 Horizon League win against Alverno on Tuesday afternoon at the Glendale Sports Complex.
"I came into the at-bat real excited," Leyva said. "I just really wanted to win it right there."
Leyva helped Holy Family improve to 5-4, 4-1 in league, while Alverno fell to 2-3 in league. Holy Family, which posted a 6-1 road win against Alverno on Friday, remained in second place in league behind San Gabriel Mission.
Leyva suffered her injury April 5 against L.A. Sacred Heart of Jesus and missed the next two games before returning Friday. On Tuesday, she became the latest hero for the Gaels when she singled to center to score Jennifer Rodriguez with the winning run.
"I'm not really hurt anymore," Leyva said. "I just block out the pain when I'm out there playing."
Rodriguez led off the eighth by reaching base on an errant throw by the shortstop. She moved to second on a single by Aurora Aguirre. The runners moved up one base each on a balk by pitcher Lleana Vior, who struck out Jessica Martin. Leyva then grounded a single to center for the victory.
"That's the way it's been going for us lately," Holy Family Coach Greg Ziomek said. "I think that balk set it up for us.
"Melanie was still a little rusty and we had her at the bottom of the lineup. She came up and hit the ball hard to get us the win. It's another hump that we had to get over because we hadn't beaten Alverno twice in a season in a long time. You just take each [obstacle] as they come."
Things looked bleak earlier for the Gaels, who trailed, 2-1, in the seventh. Vior struck out the first two batters, but Elena Lomeli and Gaby Diaz each walked.
Ashlee Sandoval then singled to center to tie the game at 2.
"I had to come up there with a positive attitude," Sandoval said. "I thought I could come through and we'd get this win.
"I wanted to get a hit that would win it, but at least we were able to tie them up. It's good enough as long as we got the run in. A game like this can bring everybody together that much more."
Alverno took a 1-0 lead in the second against Holy Family starting pitcher Rachel Turner (4-2). Camille Saurenman led off with a triple and was replaced by Ashley Lopez as a courtesy runner. Raylene Acevedo then drove Lopez in on a grounder to second.
The Jaguars extended their lead to 2-0 in the third on a run-scoring single by Saurenman.
The Gaels responded with a run in their half of the third. Sandoval hit a triple to right that scored Diaz with two outs.
Turner struck out seven and held the Jaguars to six hits in going the distance.
"I can't say enough about Rachel because she held us in it," Ziomek said.