Softball: Junior pitcher Lam cool under pressure for rising Mustangs

Gilroy's Holly Lam pitches to San Benito during their game Tuesday.

Holly Lam doesn’t let much bother her when she’s in the circle.

If it looks like Gilroy High’s junior pitcher is cool under pressure, it’s because she is.

“I’m really a fast worker when I’m out there. I’m good at staying calm,” Lam said.

Lam is one reason why the Mustangs are back in contention at 12-5 overall and 2-1 in the Monterey Bay League Gabilan Division. The right-hander was the winning pitcher in early-season victories over Milpitas, Carmel and Notre Dame of Salinas, sending a message that the Mustangs could be primed for a deep run in the Central Coast Section playoffs.

“She stays really focused and doesn’t seem to let anything that happens worry her,” Gilroy coach Julie Berggren said of Lam. “She pitches a pretty fast game, pretty focused.”

Lam struck out 12 batters in the victory over Milpitas and fanned nine against Carmel, earning complete-game wins in both outings. She had 28 strikeouts in 16 innings through the Mustangs’ first six games of the season.

“She tends to excel in the games she needs to excel in,” Berggren said. “She pushes herself in those circumstances. She’s a lot stronger this year, she’s healthy and working hard.”

Lam said she missed time last season with an “on-and-off” forearm and elbow injury to her throwing arm, but she’s returned to help the Mustangs ride into the No. 15 spot in the rankings.

“It feels really good to come back with such a strong team and win a lot of games,” Lam said. “I think we just really need to keep practicing hard for all our games and not take anyone lightly.”

Lam also is a standout basketball player, but softball is her No. 1 passion.

“Basketball definitely helps me keep in shape,” she said.

Gilroy has one of the area’s best one-two punches in the circle with Lam and sophomore Lauren Castro, who scattered six hits in a complete game with three strikeouts during a 4-1 win at Oak Grove on March 12.

Castro is currently recovering from a leg injury, but is likely to be back in time for the postseason, Berggren said.

“This team is doing exactly what I thought (for) this year,” Berggren said. “We have a super-talented team. We’re led by incredible pitching – I couldn’t ask for anything better out of any of the pitchers. It’s a fun team to coach. They make it easy to coach.”

Scoring runs hasn’t been a problem for the Mustangs, who have gotten consistent production from shortstop and leadoff hitter Kaylana Mah, third baseman Celeste Mendoza, No. 3 hitter Castro, catcher Amber Gamboa, second baseman Anna Gamboa, pitcher and left fielder Lam, center fielder Nicole Green, right fielder Rachel Tomlinson, first baseman Adrianna Ortega and others.

“Our whole lineup has really stepped up and been strong,” Lam said. “We don’t really have any weak spots.

“When I’m pitching, I definitely know I have good defense behind me.”

Berggren said the Mustangs have earned the chance to have lofty goals.

“They want to work hard. It’s fun to be a part of,” Berggren said. “I think to say that this team should reach the postseason is an understatement. They’re talented, they’re focused and they’re dedicated.”