VAN HORN Even after a slow start, the Odessa High softball team found a way to keep its season alive.
The Lady Bronchos fell 11-3 to El Paso Pebble Hills in Game 2 of a Class 6A bi-district playoff series before pulling out a decisive 12-6 victory in Game 3 Saturday at Eagle Field. Odessa High entered the day with a game in hand after defeating the Spartans 13-11 in the series opener Friday.
The Lady Bronchos advance to play Fort Worth Boswell in the area round with details of that matchup still to be determined. Boswell completed a series sweep of Trophy Club Byron Nelson on Friday.
Before getting to that point, Odessa High had to focus on the task at hand that started early as Pebble Hills took control Madison Bennett and Isabella McCauley delivered RBI singles to give the Spartans a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning of Game 2.
The lead grew up to 7-0 through two innings as the Spartans took advantage of their chances in the second inning by loading the bases and bringing in two runs via walks.
The Lady Bronchos (21-8 overall) cut into the lead with two runs in the top of the third, but the Spartans immediately responded with four runs in the bottom of the inning.
The Spartans (14-10) scored once more in the fourth inning and built a lead that Odessa High couldn’t overcome.
Odessa High head coach Rachel Pena said the Spartans came out with a lot of energy and hit the ball well, leading her team to make adjustments later in the day.
“We needed more energy, more focus,” Pena said. “That’s what I told them between games. We did a good job refocusing.”
Pebble Hills picked up right where it left off in Game 3 by opening up another 2-0 lead thanks back-to-back home runs from Yazzy Avila and Bennett.
The home run barrage continued through the next two innings as Avila and Tori Owens hit home runs for the Spartans while Nivea Saenz hit a solo home run to try and help the Lady Bronchos keep pace. Pebble Hills led 6-2 going into the fourth inning before Odessa High’s fortunes began to change.
One swing of the bat from Diveli Cherry was all it took as she hit a grand slam in the top of the fourth inning to pull the Lady Bronchos even at 6-6.
The score remained the same until the top of the sixth inning when the Lady Bronchos took control of the game by bringing six runs across. And once again it was Saenz delivering the exclamation point with a three-run home run to cap the scoring. It was the second straight day that she finished a game with two home runs.
“At first they kept on walking me,” Saenz said. “As soon as I got a chance to hit, I got a good hit and started scoring people in. It just felt good.”
El Paso Pebble Hills head coach Omar Avila was proud of the way his team didn’t back down after their loss Friday.
“There was no quit in us, we just knew what was at stake,” Avila said. “Our backs were against the wall, that’s kind of how it’s been the whole season.”
This was the first year the Spartans qualified for the playoffs since the school opened and Avila believes his team will be a regular in the postseason moving forward.
The Lady Bronchos are getting that chance to move forward and Pena emphasized that communication will be an area of focus if Odessa High wants to advance further in the postseason.
“Our trust in each other, our pitching and defense working together will be key,” she said.
>> Follow Chris Amaya on Twitter at @OA_CAmaya
El Paso Pebble Hills 11-6, Odessa High 3-12
Class 6A Bi-District Playoffs
Saturday, Eagle Field, Van Horn
Odessa High. 002 001 0 — 3 6 5
Pebble Hills… 254 000 x — 11 14 0
Meghan Gattis, Jenna Spencer (2), Alexis Villa (3) and Abegail Molina. Peyton Farris and Tori Owens. W — Farris. L — Gattis. HR — Odessa High: Gattis. Pebble Hills: Farris, Madison Bennett.
Odessa High. 011 406 0 — 12 11 1
Pebble Hills… 231 000 0 — 6 9 2
Alexis Villa, Meghan Gattis (1) and Abegail Molina. Peyton Farris, Isabella McCauley (7) and Tori Owens. W — Gattis. L — Farris. 2B — Odessa High: Joley Cruz, Shelby Navarette. 3B — Pebble Hills: Giselle Caldera. HR — Odessa High: Nivea Saenz 2, Diveli Cherry. Pebble Hills: Yazzy Avila 2, Madison Bennett, Owens.
Records — Odessa High 21-8; Pebble Hills 14-10.