HIGH SCHOOL SOFTBALL: Gattis’ leadership helps Lady Bronchos back to the postseason

When the Odessa High softball team needed a boost during the 2022 season, Meghan Gattis became one of the players to turn to.

The pitcher played a key role in helping the Lady Bronchos finish fourth in District 2-6A, stringing together important victories to extend the campaign into the postseason.

Coach Rachel Pena said Gattis’ leadership, experience and competitiveness are irreplaceable qualities that made the player stand out through the year.

“I’m excited for her, she’s worked hard, she pitched every game,” Pena said. “All 12 games of district, she pitched every inning and she’s just putting in work.

“I’m excited to see her have a good postseason.”

Odessa High is scheduled to start the Class 6A playoffs with a best-of-three series against El Paso Eastwood at 4:30 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. Saturday in Van Horn.

The Lady Bronchos went through their fair share of challenges through the year, starting with two losses in their first three district games.

They bounced back with back-to-back victories against Midland Legacy and Abilene High before falling to eventual district champion Wolfforth Frenship by two runs March 25.

After suffering a shutout loss to Midland High, Odessa High essentially locked up its spot in the playoffs with a three-game winning streak against Permian, San Angelo Central and Midland Legacy, before falling to Abilene High and Wolfforth Frenship to close out the regular season.

Gattis made her mark during the winning streak, recording 16 strikeouts, hitting two home runs and finishing with four RBIs.

“We all made sure that we got in sync,” Gattis said. “Mentally, physically, we just made sure we did our part wherever we could contribute.”

Going through the gauntlet of opponents in District 2-6A, Gattis learned that she can’t get down on herself in the circle during tough games.

She added that she understood the importance of encouraging her teammates to make sure momentum stayed high.

The Lady Bronchos face another tall task in El Paso Eastwood, co-champion of District 1-6A along with El Paso Americas.

The Lady Troopers come into the series with a 30-5 overall record, going 13-1 in district play with their only loss coming to El Paso Americas in the final game of the regular season.

Gattis said Odessa High can come away with positive results if everyone is shooting on all cylinders.

“It’s intense,” Gattis said. “A lot of energy needs to go in and a lot of focus, and adjustments.”

Along with handling pitching duties through the year, Gattis has also been the leadoff batter for the Lady Bronchos in their most important games.

Her impact as a batter could be seen in the team’s second showdown with Permian April 9 where she connected on early at-bats and gave the rest of the lineup confidence to keep swinging.

Pena said having Gattis as her leadoff batter magnifies the leadership qualities the senior has on the rest of the team, helping bring a sense of stability.

Odessa High is facing the Lady Troopers in a familiar setting at Eagle Field, where the Lady Bronchos secured a first-round playoff series win over El Paso Pebble Hills in 2021.

Gattis said she has a lot of memories in Van Horn, including breaking her bat on a home run against the Spartans.

She made up for it quickly by using Diveli Cherry’s bat, but she hopes to avoid that situation this year.

“I want to get in two games and get out, I don’t want to do three games,” Gattis said.

Odessa High needed three games in last year’s bi-district round after winning the first game and dropping the second.

>> Follow Chris Amaya on Twitter at @OA_CAmaya