HIGH SCHOOL SOFTBALL: Odessa High finds right rhythm at right time to drop Midland High, force tie for first

For the Lady Bronchos, all the pieces seemed to fall into just the right place — at just the right time.

The Odessa High softball team put together a complete performance in a 9-1 win over Midland High on Wednesday night at the Ratliff Softball Complex.

The Lady Bronchos put together strong performances at all nine positions in the field, at all nine spots in the batting order and in every inning of the contest — and, perhaps most importantly, they did so against the former league leaders in Midland High, knocking off the Lady Bulldogs to force a four-way tie for first place in the District 2-6A standings.

Odessa High scored in each of the first five innings of the game while holding Midland High to just a single run in a victory that lifted the Lady Bronchos to 4-2 in the district standings and dropped the Lady Bulldogs to 4-2 and into a tie at that mark with Odessa High, Permian and Wolfforth Frenship.

“I’m proud of the girls,” Odessa High head coach Rachel Pena said after Wednesday’s victory. “I feel like we were playing together. We were playing like a team, backing each other up. It’s good. It’s what we need to do.

“It helps when everybody contributes, everybody makes their plays, everybody does their part.”

Odessa High scored two runs in the bottom of the first, then pushed across a run in each the second and the third. In the bottom of the fourth, Cami Deanda’s leadoff single led to a Skylar Herrera’s RBI single. Herrera then crossed the plate later in the frame to make it 6-1.

In the bottom of the fifth, Deanda’s two-out, three-run home run gave the game its final score.

“I think we did very good,” Deanda said. “We came together as a team and we just had timely hitting.”

Odessa High pitcher Elva Castillo gave up just one run, via a solo homer from Reagan Keithley in the top of the fourth. Castillo allowed seven hits, but never allowed the Lady Bulldogs to string them together. She allowed no more than a single hit in all but the third, when she allowed two.

Midland High had chances to score in the middle innings, but couldn’t quite push runs across the plate. Castillo and the Lady Bronchos defense stranded two Midland High base runners in the fourth, left three stranded in the fifth and another two stranded in the sixth.

“I knew my defense had me no matter what,” Castillo said. “If I was struggling, I knew I could put it down there where my defense could help me no matter what. That’s the trust I have in my defense.”

Offensively, Odessa High scored in each of its turns at the plate, except for the bottom of the sixth.

By then, the Lady Bronchos already led 9-1.

“We talked about how good Midland High is and how no lead is safe on this field, especially against them,” Pena said. “We were determined to play all seven, so it was good to see us stay focused for all seven.”

Odessa High’s win puts district positioning up for grabs down the stretch, and marked a strong kickoff to the second round of district play for the Lady Bronchos.

Wednesday marked the beginning of the Lady Bronchos’ second run through district foes. Odessa High lost to Midland High 3-0 in the teams’ season opener on March 10, on its way to a 3-2 mark by the halfway point of league play.

“It was a rough first half but we’re getting better every game and it’s exciting to see,” Deanda said.

Yes, it all seemed together at the right time Wednesday, at the right time and against the right opponent.

“The first half we weren’t (playing) as a team and we’ve been talking and now for the second round, we’ve come together so much,” Castillo said. “It’s a big improvement.”