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HIGH SCHOOL SOFTBALL: Odessa High, Permian get set to open 2020 season - Odessa American: Sports

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HIGH SCHOOL SOFTBALL: Odessa High, Permian get set to open 2020 season

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Posted: Monday, February 17, 2020 7:00 pm

The start of a new season brings plenty of optimism for both the Permian and Odessa High softball teams.

Both teams made trips to the postseason last season and the expectations are high that they can each return to the playoffs in 2020.

Odessa High head coach Rachel Pena believes that her team that finished 31-9 in 2019 has plenty of potential following a run to the regional semifinals last year.

“It’s great that a lot of those girls from last year got to experience that playoff run,” Pena said. “It gives them something to look forward and drive through. We want to get back there again.”

To do that, the Lady Bronchos will need to rely on some familiar faces in new spots.

Seniors Skylar Herrera, Alyssa Deanda and Kaylean Ayala were some of the names among a strong senior class that have graduated.

For Pena, the opportunity is now in the hands of her current seniors to pick up from where last year’s team left off. 

 “The girls are excited to get back out there,” Pena said. “We have a few changes in the lineup this year but everyone is getting their opportunity to show what they can do and that’s exciting.”

Among those changes will be a new infield, with third baseman Christabelle Aguirre as the lone returner. Senior Noeli Suarez moves from the outfield to shortstop and Emily Salgado will see time in the infield as well.

Sierra Camacho is back in the circle to lead the pitching staff along with Pearl Marquez and Meghan Gattis.

Odessa High gets to see how the new pieces mix together in its season opener at Big Spring at 5 p.m. today.

Across town, the Lady Panthers are going through a bit more of a transition entering this season but will still have a familiar face leading the way.

Former assistant coach Angela Arebalos takes over as the new head coach for Kristin Williams, who left to take a coaching job at Richland High School in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.

On Williams’ staff the last four seasons, the transition for Arebalos has been an easy one to make. Permian finished 19-12-2 before falling in the bi-district round to El Paso Montwood.

“It’s been a smooth transition so far,” she said. “I have a great team that helps me out and we all work together. Our coaches and our girls want to do well so we’re just ready for the season to get started.”

Cohesiveness is one thing that stands out in Arebalos’ mind about this particular group of Lady Panthers.

She admits that there are more underclassmen that will take on bigger roles with this year’s team but that the team unity is expected to be one of the strengths of this year’s squad.

“This is one of the most together groups I’ve ever had,” Arebalos said. “There’s a lot of heart and determination with this year’s team.

“If they don’t like the way something is, we’re quick to get on it and you can’t ask for a better group of kids.”

The Lady Panthers will rely on a pair of returners to start, including sophomore pitcher Madi Martinez.

Martinez and newcomer Alexis Belen will lead in the circle for the Lady Panthers and Arebalos expects both of them to step up early while the rest of the team gets up to speed.

The Permian offense will lean on senior captain and third baseman Aliyah Lara and get contributions from utility Emma Chavez as well.

“I definitely want to see our pitchers be able to put on the pressure,” she said. “I want to see what they’re going to do whether things fall apart or if they come together.”

Arebalos gets to see her team take on its first test that counts when the Lady Panthers host Lubbock Coronado at 6:30 p.m. at the Ratliff Softball Complex.

The nondistrict schedule includes Class 4A regional finalist Andrews and Monahans before District 2-6A play opens March 17 at Midland High.

The Lady Bronchos host defending district champion Wolfforth Frenship on the same day and both coaches are preaching the same thing early: consistency.

“We just want to see our team be consistent at the plate,” Pena said. “We’re going to depend a lot on our offense this year.”

“We want our kids to understand their role and maximize the most that we have,” Arebalos said.

>> Follow Tony Venegas on Twitter at @OA_TVenegas

Odessa, TX

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