COLLEGE NOTEBOOK: Lady Wranglers remain in first place

The Odessa College softball team started off going 12-12 through its first 24 games of the season.

Since then, however, the Lady Wranglers have gotten back where to they expect to be as the team sits alone at the top of the Western Junior College Athletic Conference standings.

Odessa College (25-13 overall, 11-1) won a crucial series last week against rivals Midland College, taking three out of four games against the Lady Chaps (32-9, 9-3) who currently sit two games behind the Lady Wranglers in second place.

“We’re playing pretty well right now, for sure,” said Odessa College head coach Doug Eastman who’s in his first season in charge of the Lady Wranglers. “I think we’re clicking on all-cylinders and pitching pretty well. Our pitching has gotten so much better. Our hitting has been great. Our defense has been solid. Taking three out of four against Midland College was pretty solid. It gives us a two-game lead in first place.”

>> FRESHMEN: One of the reasons for the Lady Wranglers’ early struggles was because of the amount of new faces that are on the team.

“I think one of the things is that we have a bunch of freshmen,” Eastman said. “Nine of those starters are freshmen so it took us a little while to get acclimated to the competition and what has to be done to be a winner. I think we’ve learned that. It’s better to be better at the end of the season than at the beginning.”

>> WJCAC DOMINANCE: Odessa College began conference play in dominating fashion, sweeping Western Texas College and Clarendon College for an eight-game winning streak.

In the Lady Wranglers’ series against Clarendon College, Odessa College outscored the Lady Bulldogs 84-4 from all four games.

“Anytime you face our lineup with average pitching, you’re going to be in trouble,” Eastman said. “We really hit the long ball and we’ve hit a bunch of homeruns lately and that puts numbers up on the board in a hurry.”

Odessa College got its first challenge in WJCAC play last week against Midland College.

The Lady Wranglers won the first two games against the Lady Chaps by scores of 6-5 and 10-6 last Thursday in Midland.

After Midland College won the third game 9-3, Odessa College closed out the series with a 15-7 win last Friday at the Wrangler Softball Complex.

Tyerra Kaaialii had three hits and four runs in the Lady Wranglers’ 15-7 victory while Diveli Cherry had three hits and two runs.

“I think it was two teams that had a lot of energy coming into the ballpark,” Eastman said. “They had fantastic pitching. Their pitcher had a lot of strikeouts against us but we had to wear her down and make her throw a lot of pitches. I think we tired her out and in the end, that led to our series success.”

Odessa College pitcher Mia Perez managed to go 1-1 in last week’s series against Midland College, improving her overall record to 9-5.

Avery Truss went 2-1 for the Lady Wranglers and improved her overall record for the season to 12-4.

>> LOOKING AHEAD: Coming up next for the Lady Wranglers is third place Howard College (18-20, 8-4) in a four-game series beginning with a doubleheader at 1 p.m. Friday in Big Spring.

The series will conclude with another doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Wrangler Softball Complex.

“I think Howard College is one of those teams that if you don’t play well, they can get you,” Eastman sad. “If we play our game, we’ll be fine and that’s our plan. We have 12 games left and we need to win all of them. Nobody can catch you if you win games.”

>> SOPHOMORE DAY ALREADY: The Odessa College softball team will already be playing its final home games of the season with Saturday’s doubleheader against Howard College.

The Lady Wranglers haven’t been playing at home too much this season but Eastman is hopeful that’ll be different next year.

“Quite frankly, we haven’t had too many home games but that comes with the territory,” Eastman said. “For a first-year coach, sometimes you have to travel a lot. I think we’ll have a ton of home games next year and that’ll benefit us.”