PECOS The Odessa High Lady Bronchos softball team had been searching for that one clutch moment that would propel them forward.
On Friday night, Odessa High got that clutch moment.
In the best-of-3 Class 6A bi-district series, Odessa High took Game 1 over the El Paso Socorro Bulldogs 7-6 in eight innings.
With the game tied 6-6, Abby Rodriguez hit a solo home run that ended up being the game-winner for Odessa High.
Socorro came in with tons of energy. This was, after all, its first appearance in the playoffs in 25 years. Odessa High had to match Socorro’s intensity each inning, and did.
“It was exciting. It was fun to watch,” Odessa High head coach Rachel Pena said. “It was fun to be a part of. One of the things we’ve been talking about all week is recover and finish.
“It certainly applied today. We carried that into the game. It was nice to see the girls take that into everything we did today.”
The Bulldogs came out firing on all cylinders in the bottom of the first. Melanie Melendez hit a two-run home run to highlight a four-run rally. Jennifer Estrada added to the inning with a two-RBI triple.
Odessa High (22-6-1) got on the board with an RBI single by Sierra Camacho in the top of the third.
Abigale Rayos gave the Lady Bronchos the spark they needed when she hit a two-run home run in the fourth inning to cut the deficit to one run.
Socorro extended the lead to 5-3 with an RBI single by Destiny Delgado in the bottom of the fourth.
The Bulldogs (26-10) had a chance to do something big when they had the bases loaded in the fifth. The inning came to an end on a groundout to the pitcher.
Odessa High tied up the game in the top of the sixth when Skylar Herrera hit an RBI single and Rodriguez drove in a run on a double.
The Lady Bronchos took a 6-5 lead when Kyra Jaquez drove in Christabelle Aguirre on a sacrifice fly to right field in the top of the seventh.
Socorro answered back with a sacrifice fly of its own in the bottom of the inning, which tied up the game 6-6.
Rodriguez delivered the leadoff home run in the top of the eighth to give the Lady Bronchos a one-run lead. She finished 3 for 4 with a single, double, home run and two RBIs.
“My teammates believed in me and they gave me the confidence to do that,” Rodriguez said. “It’s gonna be tough because they’re a good team and they hit good. Their defense is good.
“We’re gonna have to play hard. I was happy.”
With runners at first and third, Socorro was threatening to win the game in the bottom of the eighth, but the rally came to an end on a pop fly to the shortstop.
Rayos went 2 for 4 with a single, home run and two RBIs, while Jaquez finished 1 for 4 with a single and an RBI.
Odessa High outhit Socorro 13-8. Camacho tossed a complete game with four strikeouts.
Melendez led the Bulldogs going 2 for 3 with a single, home run and two RBIs. Rebecca Lopez went 2 for 4 with two singles.
Game 2 is at 11 a.m. Saturday. Odessa High will be the home team. If necessary, Game 3 will follow 30 minutes after Game 2.
Socorro was tenacious. They fought hard, but they let one pitch get away from them.
“We started out strong. We stepped it up, held our end,” Socorro head coach Shawn O’Neal said. “Just laid one too many down the pipe and it went over the fence. Sometimes that’s all it takes.
“We’ve got two more games to think about it, and we’re gonna come out strong tomorrow.”
Odessa High’s Abigale Rayos (10) is congratulated by her teammates after hitting a two-run home run in the top of the fourth inning during Game 1 of a Class 6A bi-district series Friday night in Pecos.
By Peter Dindinger
Odessa High’s Christabelle Aguirre makes contact with a pitch during the seventh inning during Game 1 of a Class 6A bi-district playoff series Friday night.
By Peter Dindinger