COLLEGE NOTEBOOK: Lady Wranglers look to clinch WJCAC title this week

The Odessa College softball team is just one win away from a third consecutive Western Junior College Athletic Conference title.

Two wins if the Lady Wranglers don’t want to share it with Midland College.

Considering that Odessa College is on a nine-game winning streak, head coach Doug Eastman and his players have plenty of reasons to feel good going into this week’s regular season final series against Frank Phillips College on the road.

The conference-leading Lady Wranglers (34-12 overall, 19-1 in WJCAC) will look to close out their regular season on a high note when they face the Lady Plainsmen (20-22, 9-11) in a four-game series, beginning with a doubleheader at 1 p.m. Friday and another doubleheader at noon Saturday in Borger.

Midland College (41-10, 16-4) sits three games behind Odessa College in second place.

The Lady Chaparrals will close out their regular season with a four-game series at El Paso Community College this Friday and Saturday.

“We should be in good shape,” Eastman said. “Everyone is healthy. I’m feeling good going into this week. Our goal, of course, is to win all four.”

The Lady Wranglers are coming off a series sweep against El Paso Community College last week on the road, winning by scores of 10-2, 22-7, 11-1 and 12-4.

Despite coming off a bye-week, Eastman said the Lady Wranglers were a little rusty coming out of the gate last week in El Paso.

“Coming out, the bats weren’t really firing away early,” Eastman said. “Our pitchers were missing their spots. I was hoping the rest would be a beneficial thing for us but the pitchers seemed a little fatigue. You can never figure things out like if the rest was a good thing or not but we got it together and played well when all was said and done.”

Odessa College pitchers Mia Perez and Avery Truss both got victories last week to help keep the Wranglers on an undefeated run.

Truss currently sits at 16-6 for the season while Perez is 15-5.

>> Chasing 900: This weekend will not only see the Lady Wranglers likely win another WJCAC title but also see first-year head coach Eastman get his 900th overall career victory.

“The next four games are a personal thing for me because I told the girls I need these four wins to get to 900,” Eastman said. “That’s something that they’re excited about. Going into regionals, the bottom line is that we have to find a way to beat Midland twice. They have great pitching. They’re a good opponent. It won’t be easy. I need to be careful with my number one and number two pitchers and keep them fresh.”

>> Other takeaways: El Paso Community College remains second to last in the WJCAC standings at 12-29, 5-15.

Despite the slow start, Eastman liked the way his team finished up the series against EPCC.

“it’s a nice facility out there,” Eastman said. “It was the first time that I’ve been out there. That was refreshing. Every part of our game after the first four innings was fantastic. Our pitchers started settling in. we swung the bat well and our defense was as good as I’ve seen it. We made great plays and it puts us in a positive mindset going into conference championship play.”

>> Recovering from a slow start: The Lady Wranglers are a much different team than from February as the team has been playing strong since the start of conference play.

The team is receiving votes in this week’s NJCAA national poll.

Since WJCAC play began, Odessa College’s only loss has come to Midland College which was a 9-3 defeat in game two of the series back on April 4.

“I think we had a slow start and that was because we had so many freshmen playing college softball for the first time,” Eastman said. “They were learning what it was like to win collegiate softball games. Once our two pitchers got comfortable, we started coming together. Our team chemistry has been fantastic. We all get along well with each other. We keep telling the players that summer is going to be here, win or lose so why not win so we’re ready to stick around for another three weeks and see how far we can take this.”

>> FPC: While the Lady Plainsmen may have a losing record but are coming off a sweep against Clarendon College last week, winning by scores of 19-4, 34-8, 23-4, 22-0.

Eastman knows his team is still playing well going into the conference championship.

“I’ve always told my team that we’re not playing against an opponent, we’re playing against ourselves,” Eastman said. “You can win a game and play bad. We just want to make sure that we’re playing good softball going into regionals.”