After the first five games of the District 2-6A schedule, the Odessa High baseball team sits at the top of the standings with a 4-1 record.
The Bronchos didn’t roll to four easy victories with three of those wins coming by a single run.
Odessa High head coach Josh Hulin knows it wasn’t simple to pick up four district wins and the road won’t any easier to attempt to recreate that same winning stretch for a potential playoff spot.
“We have a pretty mature club right now with guys that have played a lot baseball and they understand that we haven’t done anything up to this point with it being easy,” Hulin said. “We understand that we are going to face some adversity and we are going to have to be ready for it, because 4-1 can turn to the opposite of that real quick, if you don’t stay locked in.”
The Bronchos travel to Amarillo Tascosa — one of the teams that Odessa High squeaked out a 1-0 win against during the Tournament of Champions in Midland — for a weekend series beginning at 4:30 p.m. Friday and it concludes at 1 p.m. Saturday.
Odessa High holds a 14-7 overall record with its 4-1 district mark. The only team to beat the Bronchos in the early stages of the district schedule was Midland High. Amarillo Tascosa sits 4-15-1 overall and 1-4 in the district. Its lone district victory came against Midland Lee 9-8 on March 16 in Amarillo.
The Bronchos will make the nearly four-hour trip to Amarillo but Hulin believes the team is ready to make that meaningful trek, especially with the experience of traveling to the Centex Hardball Tournament in Round Rock to open the regular season.
“We’ve played on the road a lot and I did it for a reason,” Hulin said. “I put us on the road for three scrimmages this year. We went to Round Rock, which was a long trip. We stayed in Lubbock. All that was kind of preparation to win on the road, because we haven’t been good on the road at all for the past couple of years.”
In the first meeting between the Bronchos and Rebels, Odessa High senior right-handed pitcher Shandon Herrera tossed a complete-game, two-hit shutout. Odessa High mustered four hits, which included the go-ahead RBI fielder’s choice from Jacob Munoz in the first inning.
Munoz, who is the Bronchos starting center fielder, said the team has to maintain a high level of concentration throughout the series in Amarillo.
“District is tough,” said Munoz, who has a .323 average, four doubles, two triples, two home runs, 17 RBIs and 16 runs scored. “We have to fight and scratch for every run that we get. There are going to be a lot of close games.”
Permian waited more than three weeks for its first district victory.
Backed behind a solid start from junior right-handed pitcher Peyton Hutson, the Panthers topped Amarillo Tascosa 8-4 on Friday to notch that accomplishment. Permian holds a 6-13-1 record and had lost eight straight games before Friday’s win.
However, during that stretch, the Panthers were either tied or held a lead in the sixth or seventh inning in four of those eight games.
“The hump that I see us needing to get over is the hump of expectations,” Permian head coach Jimmy Webster said. “When I came here, I thought we would be behind baseball-wise, but really eager and hungry to win. Our baseball capabilities aren’t the issue. We aren’t bad. It’s the expectation to want to win and want to get better in practice, that’s what we need to get better at.”
Hutson tossed 5 1/3 innings and allowed four runs on seven hits and struck out four in the win against the Rebels. The junior right-handed pitcher hopes that victory can spark a surge in the final 10 games of the district schedule.
“It was good for the team, because we all came together and played together as a team,” Hutson said. “It was a real confidence booster.”
The Panthers continue their district schedule traveling to Wolfforth Frenship at 6 p.m. Friday. Permian will host the Tigers at 1 p.m. Saturday at McCanlies Field.
Webster said the team’s main focus is on itself rather than one of five district opponents. Wolfforth Frenship holds an 11-10 record and is in a three-way tie with Midland High and Midland Lee for second place in the district standings at 3-2.
“Our opponent shouldn’t be our concern as much as the game itself,” Webster said. “I’m not taking away from any of our opponents at all. I think our issue is more about us and if we attack the game the right way, we’ll be OK.”