SEMINOLE The Odessa High and Midland Lee softball teams split two games during District 2-6A play, so the faces were familiar when the squads straddled the baselines prior to the first pitch
The circumstances were not.
Having already survived two playoff series, the Lady Bronchos and Lady Rebels met in Game 1 of a Class 6A regional quarterfinal series Friday at the Seminole ISD softball field.
When the final out was recorded, it was Odessa High that was one step closer to the next round following a 9-3 victory.
Game 2 is scheduled for noon Saturday, with Game 3, if necessary, to follow.
“I thought we played pretty well,” Odessa High head coach Rachel Pena said. “I thought we could have played better. We had a lot of defensive errors which I wasn’t happy about but we made up for it offensively and that worked out.”
The Lady Bronchos opened the scoring in the second inning when Noeli Suarez hit a one-out double and then scored on a throwing error by Midland Lee on a ground ball by Hailey Prentice.
Ebony Valdez, pinch running for Prentice, moved to third on a single by Pearl Marquez and then scored on a passed ball for a 2-0 lead.
Just as quickly, though, the Lady Rebels pressured Odessa High by loading the bases in the top of the third inning with a single and back-to-back errors.
Odessa High shortstop Skylar Herrera quieted the Midland Lee fans, however, by turning a double play to get the Lady Bronchos out of the inning still in front.
“It was a big confidence booster for us,” Herrera said. “After I made those couple of errors, I knew I had to make a play for the team so we could get out of the inning as quick as we could.”
“That was a big momentum swing for us,” said Pena of the third inning. “The double plays helped a lot to get out of some jams because Pearl was pitching well.
“Overall, I thought Pearl worked hard and the defense was able to back her up.”
Odessa High went back to work offensively in the bottom of the inning, the beneficiary of a pair of errors and a hit batter to load the bases.
Saurez, who finished 3 for 4 with a double and one RBI, reached on an error to plate one run.
Another run scored on a double play to make it 4-0 and the Lady Bronchos were in control.
In all, the Lady Rebels committed five errors on the night, four in the third inning alone.
“We didn’t capitalize on our chances to produce runs,” Lee head coach Mandy Davis said. “That third inning was not acceptable in any situation.
“None of these girls have been this far in the playoffs and I think we panicked.”
The Lady Rebels did get a run back in the fourth inning with an RBI double from Emily Gonzalez. They also got a two-run RBI double from Nayeli Laredo in the seventh but were unable to muster a comeback.
The scoring was capped off with a four-run fifth inning starting with a leadoff inside-the-park home run from Abigale Rayos, followed by RBI groundouts from Prentice and Marquez.
“I think we did a good job fighting back,” Suarez said. “But Lee is a good team and they’re going to come out fighting tomorrow. We have to be ready to play.”