SEMINOLE The Odessa High softball team is used to handling pressure and the Lady Bronchos faced another test Saturday against Midland Lee.
Ultimately, Odessa High came up with the plays it needed to hold off a late rally for a 7-5 victory against the Lady Rebels in Game 2 of the Class 6A regional quarterfinals at the Seminole ISD Softball Field.
Odessa High (31-8 overall) swept the best-of-3 series to advance to the regional semifinals for the first time since 2008 and will face Haslet Eaton next week.
“I knew Midland Lee wasn’t going to go quietly,” Odessa High head coach Rachel Pena said. They did a good job in the sixth inning to score and put pressure on us. I was proud of how our girls handled it.”
After a pair of scoreless innings, the Lady Bronchos got going in the third inning.
Following a leadoff walk, Noeli Suarez advanced to third base on two passed balls. That’s when Odessa High starter Sierra Camacho helped her own cause with an RBI single to drive in Suarez.
The Lady Bronchos got a second run later in the inning when courtesy runner Ebany Valdez scored after Emily Salgado was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.
After retiring the Lady Rebels (23-14) in order in the bottom of the inning, Odessa High broke the game open in the fourth.
A leadoff home run from Christabelle Aguirre got things started and after consecutive singles from Hailey Prentice and Camacho, courtesy runner Myka High scored on a Midland Lee error. Alyssa Deanda drove in another run on a groundout to make it 5-0.
“I was just trying to start a rally and pick up my teammates,” said Aguirre of the home run. “I just was trying to get a base hit and just hit it out.”
The Lady Rebels got on the board in the bottom of the inning with a two-run, two-out RBI single from Alex James.
But Odessa High was able to extend its lead in the fifth innings on the strength of Abigale Rayos’ two-run home run.
Midland Lee, which had managed only one hit through the first five innings, then put together a strong rally to cut the deficit in the bottom of the sixth inning.
The inning started with consecutive singles from Abby Jordan and Zymra Carrasco, followed by a Litzy Gutierrez walk, after a 13-pitch at bat, to load the bases.
A fielder’s choice from Claudia Carrillo and an Odessa High error allowed two runs to score, with Gisselle Dominguez adding an RBI single to make it 7-5.
Midland Lee was unable to get any closer as Herrera turned an inning-ending double play to avoid further damage.
“Lee is a tough team and we knew it was going to be a good game,” Camacho said. “My defense and my teammates really helped me out today. It just sparked momentum and picked me up.”
“We talk a lot about focusing on the process and not the outcome,” Pena said. “In those moments, they might start to thinking about the outcome and we just get them to refocus on the process. That’s how we’ve been approaching it all year.”
The Lady Rebels had one last chance to keep the game, and their season, going, bringing the tying run to the plate in the bottom of the seventh, but a lineout to Noeli Suarez ended the game.
“All season long, we’ve talked about never quitting and they proved it today,” Midland Lee head coach Mandy Davis said. “We had a chance to tie it up and just couldn’t get the big hit when we needed it.
“They (Odessa High) got the clutch hits when they needed them. They’re a strong team.”