COLLEGE SOFTBALL: Odessa College wins one close, runs away with another in sweep of Clarendon College

Hope Deanda doesn’t mind how the wins come about.

Friday, she and the Odessa College softball team piled on hits in bunches during a doubleheader sweep over Frank Phillips College to open conference play at 2-0.

Saturday, the Lady Wranglers played a bit more small ball to push baserunners around in two wins over Clarendon College.

Either way works.

And either way, Odessa College is 4-0 in conference.

“We’re very versatile,” Deanda said with a laugh.

Deanda scored three times in Odessa College’s 4-3 win in Saturday’s opener against Clarendon at the OC Softball Complex, crossing home plate for the game-winning run on an RBI hit by teammate Vanessa Muro — all before Deanda, Muro and the Lady Wranglers raced away from Clarendon to win 10-0 in the doubleheader’s finale.

Odessa College (18-9 overall, 4-0 WJCAC) used calculated base running to score two runs in the bottom of the first of the opener — with neither run coming in off of a hit — before Muro drove in Deanda in the bottom of the fifth and then pushed her across again for the game-winning score in the bottom of the seventh. Odessa College base runners stole five bases in that win.

Then, the Lady Wranglers ended the day’s finale in the middle of the fifth by run rule, rolling up 10 runs on 12 hits, manufacturing four of those runs on plays without a base hit.

“That’s basically what you want to do, is execute,” Deanda said after Saturday’s wins. “Every inning, when we have runners on, we want to execute, whether it be bunts or base hits.

“I guess that’s really how you win games, so that’s the goal.”

Seven different Lady Wranglers scored in that finale. Taylor Fogle drove in Christina Valdez and Brooke Ryan on a two-run RBI single in the bottom of the second to get Odessa College on the scoreboard, but from there, half the Lady Wranglers’ scores came by way of advantageous base running — contrasting Odessa College’s two victories Friday, in which the Lady Wranglers knocked around 38 hits, but proving just as effective.

“Small ball does come in handy sometimes, with bunting and our slappers just putting the ball in play — and them being fast makes it even better,” Fogle said. “When we do need hits, our hitters come up and hit the ball, smack it in the hole, in the gap.

“It shows that we can hit, play small ball, slap, run — we’re a good offensive hitting team.”

Meanwhile, pitcher Brittany Kennett shut down the visiting Bulldogs from the circle, allowing just four hits in that 10-0 shutout.

Fellow pitcher Winter Ridgeway allowed just three hits in that 4-3 opening win.

In that one, Clarendon (19-14, 0-4) scored in the top of the seventh to tie the game 3-3, but the Lady Wranglers responded right back in the form of the heroics from Muro and Deanda.

Odessa College head coach Karina Cannon said she was glad to see her team come through with a clutch win in a tight game during the opener.

“Absolutely,” she agreed. “I even said that to them. I said, ‘We need this, because this is what conference is all about and we need to step it up’ — and be able to overcome it being a tied game up into the seventh and finally just executing.”

For Cannon, it may have been an even better sight to see her team refocus and run away with the day’s second game despite how close that first one was.

“Obviously I’m proud of their efforts in that second game, for sure,” Cannon said. “They did what was asked of them. They made adjustments at the plate like we spoke about between games. So it was nice to see them execute things.”

Fogle said that second win speaks to the Lady Wranglers’ ability to refocus and play with renewed energy when needed.

“It says a lot about us,” she said. “It says we don’t let up the second game, no matter what. You can be on us first game and the second game we’ll come right back out and bite you in the butt.

“I just love how our team doesn’t give up no matter what the score is, no matter if we’re winning 13-0 or down 13-0 — we still have that high energy.”

Saturday’s sweep wrapped up a perfect opening weekend of WJCAC play for Odessa College.

Odessa College will turn around and play immediate rematches from this weekend on the road next week, when the Lady Wranglers travel for doubleheaders with Clarendon and Frank Phillips.