When first baseman Taylor Fogle closed her glove around the final out Saturday afternoon, the Odessa College softball team finally earned what it had its sights set on all weekend.
Surely, there's nothing sweeter than a sweep.
After two big wins on Friday to start a pivotal series with rival Midland College, on Saturday the Lady Wranglers picked up right where they left off, crashing through the Lady Chaparral Softball Field on their way to earning 6-0 and 9-0 victories and completing a perfect weekend.
In a battle between nationally ranked teams, with first-place positioning in the conference standings hanging in the balance throughout, Odessa College rose to the occasion — ultimately blowing by the Lady Chaparrals in statement-making fashion.
Both teams entered the series a perfect 12-0 in WJCAC play. Odessa College entered ranked 12th in the NJCAA's latest rankings released last Tuesday. Midland College was ranked No. 5.
But by Saturday afternoon, the Lady Wranglers had set themselves apart, standing 16-0.
"I'm just proud of my girls," Odessa College head coach Karina Cannon said moments after the fourth and final win of the weekend.
Odessa College had bested Midland College 4-2 and 10-2 at home at the OC Softball Complex on Friday, before the series shifted to Midland and the Lady Chaparral Softball Field for Saturday's series-concluding doubleheader.
Saturday, the Lady Wranglers didn't let up. They rolled up five runs in the top of the second inning of the day's opener to go up 7-0 early, and never looked back.
Hope Deanda's RBI double in the top of the third scored Bella Garcia and put OC in position to end the game by run rule. After Christina Valdez pushed Mikayla Krause home with her own RBI double in the top of the fourth, the Lady Wranglers did just that, clinching the win in just five innings.
Freshman pitcher Dani Leitha allowed just two hits in the circle in that one.
"We were pumped," Leitha said. "Coming over here to Midland this morning, we were really pumped. We were ready to go.
"We practiced hard and we worked hard for this," she added. "We came out and here and we were prepared."
In the finale, Odessa College ace Winter Ridgeway allowed just two hits through a full seven innings.
The Lady Wranglers set the tone early in that one, too. Anela Lopez drove in K'Leigh Arredondo with an RBI double in the top of the first to the put OC on the board. An at-bat later, Vanessa Muro crossed home plate on an RBI groundout from Brooke Ryan.
Lopez drove in Arredondo once again in the top of the third to make it a 3-0 game.
In the top of the fourth, Arredondo's base hit drove Fogle in, just before Muro's single scored catcher Brandi Kennedy.
Then in the top of the sixth, Muro blasted a solo home run well over the left-centerfield wall to give the game its final score.
"Midland's a tough, tough team. I'll give it to them," Muro said. "They have great bats, great girls.
"It was just a battle between us two and we came out with the win. That's what we worked for."
Yes, the Lady Wranglers had their aim on a perfect sweep — and they never seemed satisfied throughout the weekend until that final out that clinched a fourth and final win.
Cannon said she knew her team was capable of such a complete performance, but she was glad to see it all strung together at just the right time, against just the right opponent and at just the right occasion and opportunity.
"I do know what they're capable of, and it's about putting it together, all together," Cannon said. "I wasn't surprised, but, yes, I am extremely pleased and that's why I am proud, because they've now proved to themselves what they are capable of, and they know they can do this."
Now, the Lady Wranglers (30-9 overall, 16-0 WJCAC) will turn their attention to their next opponent, and their next big opportunity.
Next weekend, Odessa College is set to square off with the conference's third major contender in Howard College (32-11, 15-1).
"I think it made them even more hungry," Cannon said of the sweep over Midland College. "They're really pumped. They need to be pleased of themselves.
"I told them 'Enjoy the rest of the weekend. We get back to work on Monday and we've got to refocus and realize that our job is nowhere near being done.'"
Article by Justin Lee OA