HIGH SCHOOL SOFTBALL: Odessa High rallies for victory over Pebble Hills to open postseason

VAN HORN Odessa High head softball coach Rachel Pena said that toughness is a key when you get to the playoffs and Odessa High was tested in its playoff opener against El Paso Pebble Hills.

After a tough start, the Lady Bronchos found a way to get the job done.

The offense got going and the Lady Bronchos were steady in the circle late, holding on for a 13-11 victory over the Spartans in Game 1 of a Class 6A bi-district playoff series Friday at Eagle Field.

Odessa High (20-7 overall) had to rally from a pair of deficits in the first and fourth innings, respectively.

“I thought that they showed a lot of toughness,” Pena said. “We took some hits and got punched a little bit but then we came back and fought back and I’m proud of that.”

Pebble Hills’ Isabella McCauley two-run home run in the top of the first inning was the first strike for the Spartans, who were making their first playoff appearance.

El Paso Pebble Hills had a chance to extend its lead in the top of the second inning but Odessa High starter Meghan Gattis was able to work her way out of the jam.

Odessa High pitcher Meghan Gattis (6) throws a pitch to a Pebble Hills batter during Game 1 of a Class 6A bi-district playoff game Friday at Eagle Field in Van Horn. (Tony Venegas|Odessa American)

The Lady Bronchos got going in the bottom of the second by sending 10 batters to the plate and plating five runs, highlighted by a pair of two-run singles by Lizbeth Dominguez and Shelby Navarette.

The Spartans answered the next inning with two runs led by Giselle Caldera, who had two doubles and scored three runs.

Joley Cruz countered with a solo home run in the bottom of the inning to give Odessa High a 6-4 lead.

That lead vanished in the fourth with Pebble Hills (13-9) added six runs led in part by RBI singles from Peyton Farris, Alicia Ruiz and Azaylea Martinez.

The back-and-forth battle continued with Odessa High rallying to pull even with some big swings.

Navarette got the run going in the bottom of the fourth by hitting into a fielder’s choice to drive in Gattis before Nivea Saenz hit the first of her two home runs — a two-run shot — to cut the deficit to 10-9. A pop fly by Cruz turned into  error to bring in another run to tie the game.

Odessa High’s Nivea Saenz (5) swings at a pitch during Game 1 of a Class 6A bi-district playoff series against El Paso Pebble Hills Friday at Eagle Field in Van Horn. (Tony Venegas|Odessa American)

“I feel like I was able to get out of a slump,” Saenz said. “It took a while and I had to just settle down because I was overthinking. And then I just got it right.”

Jenna Spencer, who came on in relief of Gattis in the fourth inning, retired the Spartans in order in the fifth, setting the stage for Odessa High to take the lead for good.

Navarette started that push with a two-run home run, followed immediately by a solo home run from Saenz to make it 13-10.

Pebble Hills scored in the top half of the sixth inning off a fielder’s choice but was unable to get closer as Spencer pitched a scoreless seventh inning to seal the game for the Lady Bronchos.

The series continues with Game 2 starting at 11 a.m. Saturday back at Eagle Field with Game 3 following 30 minutes after if necessary. The winner will face Fort Worth Boswell in the area round.

“My girls are a bunch of fighters and we’ve faced a lot of adversity throughout the season,” Pebble Hills head coach Omar Avila said. “They’re just a group that’s not going to quit. They have some good ball players on the other side and hopefully we can come back tomorrow and steal a couple.”

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Odessa High 13, El Paso Pebble Hills 11

Class 6A Bi-District Playoff Series, Game 1

Friday, Eagle Field, Van Horn

Pebble Hills.. 202. 601        0     —    11     12        3

Odessa High. 051. 430        x     —    13     16        2

Peyton Farris, Isabella McCauley (4) and Tori Owens. Meghan Gattis, Jenna Spencer (4) and Abegail Molina. W — Spencer. L — McCauley. 2B — Pebble Hills: Giselle Caldera 2, Yazzy Avila. Odessa High: Diveli Cherry. 3B HR — Pebble Hills: McCauley. Odessa High: Joley Cruz, Nivea Saenz 2, Shelby Navarette.

Records — El Paso Pebble Hills 13-9; Odessa High 20-7.