COLLEGE SOFTBALL: Odessa College sweeps Ranger College to open season

After having its season cut short last year, the Odessa College softball team entered Friday’s season-opening doubleheader against Ranger College looking to get 2021 off to a good start.

The Wranglers did just that, even if it took two different paths to get there.

Odessa College swept the doubleheader at Wrangler Field by defeating Ranger College 9-0 in five innings in Game 1 with a no-hitter by freshman pitcher Aydenne Brown before holding on to win 9-7 in Game 2.

“Whenever your starting pitcher gives you a no-hitter and barely allows your defense to make plays, that’s awesome,” Odessa College head coach Jeff Jackson said. “And honestly, I was really impressed with our offense.

“There are some things that we can learn from this, but nothing out of the ordinary for the first day.”

Brown was able to overcome a couple of first-inning walks by striking out the side to keep the game scoreless early. It was the only real trouble she faced in the first game, retiring nine straight batters and finishing with 10 strikeouts over five innings on 70 pitches.

Brown said she was able to overcome some early issues with her control.

“Honestly, my spins weren’t working that well and I just had a very determined mindset and worked hard to push through all the tough spots,” she said.

Brown got a boost from the offense in a three-run first thanks to an RBI double from Marijn Crouwel. Crouwel later scored on a passed ball on a strikeout.

The Wranglers extended the lead with a six-run second inning. Crouwel and Hunter Harkrider drove in three runs on consecutive RBI singles before three runs scored on a Ranger College error with the bases loaded to give Brown more than enough cushion to close out the first game.

The second game started off less auspiciously for the Wranglers as Ranger College broke through for three runs in the top of the first inning. Odessa College answered with a pair of sacrifice flies from Illy Cisneros and Harkrider to cut into the deficit before taking the lead for good at 5-4 in the bottom the fourth inning on an RBI double from Madi Scott.

A four-run fifth inning helped extend the Wranglers lead to 9-4 before having to withstand a late charge from the Rangers led by Gaby Gomez, who finished 3 for 4 with a double in Game 2 and scored twice.

The Rangers had the tying run on second base in the top of the seventh inning but were unable to drive her in as freshman outfielder Lauren Gonzales made a diving catch in left field for the final out to hold on for the victory.

Gonzales also made the most of her chances on base, stealing three bases, scoring twice and recording two hits over the two games. Odessa College finished with nine stolen bases during the doubleheader.

“Honestly, these wins set us on a good note,” Gonzales said. “We have the whole season ahead of us and we want that national championship. It was just great to get off to a good start.”

The Wranglers have a quick turnaround, facing Temple College in a doubleheader starting at 11 a.m. Saturday at Wrangler Field.

Jackson was encouraged by how Odessa College played overall, but told his team afterwards that there was still plenty to improve on, especially after committing three errors in Game 2.

“I’ll never complain about wins,” Jackson said. “We just have to look for things that we can improve on so that we don’t make the same mistakes again.”

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