HIGH SCHOOL SOFTBALL: Lady Bronchos look to keep long playoff run going

It’s been quite the postseason run for the Odessa High softball team.

After sweeping District 2-6A rival Midland Lee last weekend, the Lady Bronchos are back in the fourth round of the playoffs for the first time since 2008.

That year, Odessa High (31-8 overall) advanced all the way to the state semifinals.

The Lady Bronchos are not yet ready for this year’s run to end.

To keep their season alive, they will have to defeat a tough Haslet Eaton (31-2) squad in a one-game playoff at noon at Hermleigh High School.

Odessa High head coach Rachel Pena admits that her team has found another gear during its postseason run.

“I feel like things have really started connecting for us,” Pena said. “It’s always been there and we knew we had a talented team.

“District play was a little up and down but as soon as the playoffs started, everyone has contributed when they needed to.”

That confidence has trickled down from the coaches down to this current group of Lady Bronchos, giving the players a chance to step back and reflect on back on the team’s accomplishments to this point.

“It’s a blessing to be able to go as far as we’ve gone,” junior pitcher Sierra Camacho said. “Not many teams have gone this far and the fact that we’re so connected as a team says a lot. That keeps us going and helps us stay positive.”

That was evident this past weekend during Game 2 against Midland Lee. After building up a 7-2 lead, the Lady Bronchos watched the Lady Rebels cut into the deficit to pull within two runs.

The defense was able to work out of a sixth-inning jam with an inning-ending double play and held off another threat in the seventh inning to complete the sweep.

 “We push each other really hard and we know that we have each other’s back,” outfielder Noeli Suarez said. “That gives us a lot of confidence because we know that we’re there to pick each other up.”

A key to the Lady Bronchos’ success has been the team mentality the players have adopted during this postseason, making a run that has been seen just one other time in program history.

That cohesiveness is what Pena says has made this group special.

“I think the girls have showed a lot of want to not have their season end,” she said. “They want to do everything they can to keep playing and that’s been the big key for us.”

That will is going to be tested today.

After playing three-game series each of the first three rounds, this will be the first time Odessa High finds itself in a one-game playoff this postseason.

There is no next time; no chance for a do-over in that scenario.

 “I think it lights a little more of a fire in us,” Camacho said. “We just have to be ready to go out and play our best game.”

“The approach stays the same for us,” Pena said. “Even in a series, you still want to try and come out and win that first game. The adjustments just need to happen faster because you’re not going to get tomorrow to make changes.”

The winner of Saturday’s matchup faces the winner of the Wolfforth Frenship-Keller series, another matchup between District 2 and District 5-6A.  

Pena admits that it’s a cool thing to see but knows that the Lady Bronchos will have to be at their best in order to keep playing beyond Saturday afternoon.

“They (Eaton) are a strong hitting team and strong all the way around,” she said. “We’re going to have to match their intensity.

“We know what we’re capable of and we’re just striving to perform like that on Saturday.”
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