Inseparable since childhood, Julia and Lauren Lombardi are reunited and thriving at Long Beach State.
Born only a year apart, Julia and Lauren moved up the youth softball ranks and attended West Ranch High School in Stevenson Ranch together for three years until Lauren graduated to play softball at LBSU. It was the first time they were separated for longer than a few months.
“I was used to always, for a short time, not being on the same team as [Julia],” Lauren said. “It was kind of weird for such an extended period of time. It was definitely something I had to get used to.”
For a while, it seemed like the sisters would never officially play together again. Julia wanted to keep her options open as far as committing to college, but when LBSU came knocking during her senior year she couldn’t resist.
“Seeing [Lauren] commit [to LBSU] and always talk about the positives, like being closer to home and staying in California, our parents can come watch us, and then the fact that I would still be with her,” Julia said. “I knew what to expect.”
Lauren could not hide her excitement when Julia committed to the 49ers. She said she didn’t want to persuade Julia in any way, she wanted her sister to make her own decisions.
“Deep down I was really hoping that she would decide to come here,” Lauren said. “So, I’m really happy.”
In their first season together at LBSU, their stats are strikingly similar. Julia is hitting .340/.367/.564 with five home runs, while Lauren is batting .337/.426/.565 on the season.
However, they are both quick to point out that they are very different players.
“I’m probably just a little bit stronger, just from catching,” Lauren said. “[Julia] is taller than me so she’s better at first base. We also have different approaches up to bat, like I’ll usually do pretty well with the low balls, and she’s always been able to get on top of something.”
Lauren and Julia’s physical approach in the batter’s box may be different, but their mental approach to softball is identical due in large part to their father, Phil Lombardi.
“Our dad talks a lot about the mental game,” Julia said. “That’s what he likes to focus on. Before and after every game he’ll talk [to us] about our mindset.”
Phil was a ball player himself many years ago. The New York Yankees drafted him in 1981, and made his major league debut in 1986 after five years in the minors. He played for the Yankees for two years before being traded to the cross-town rival Mets. He played a year with the Mets before retiring in 1990.
“[My dad] is very passionate about the game,” Julia said. “So from the start, we were just bound to play.”
Head coach Kim Sowder said Julia and Lauren’s confidence and swagger are just some of the few qualities the sisters share that allow them to be so successful, and believes those qualities were passed down from Phil.
“They’re both great competitors,” Sowder said. “It’s in their genes. They’re both very clutch hitters. They’re very confident in the box. They have the mentality that they believe they’re going to get it done every time, which is what you need and want as a coach.”