The Odessa College softball team has struggled out of the gate this season and it looked like more of the same against Angelina College Thursday afternoon.
After taking an early lead, the Lady Wranglers gave that lead back, and then some, allowing the Roadrunners to tie and then take a lead late in the game.
On this day, however, the Lady Wranglers would not be denied.
Pulling even with a pair of runs in the fifth inning, Odessa College went ahead on Cami Deanda's sacrifice fly in the bottom of the sixth inning and then held on for the 4-3 victory at Wranglers Field.
The game was part of the Permian Basin Invitational, which will continue today with Odessa College hosting Trinity Valley Community College at 1 p.m. and then Trinidad State Junior College at 3.
"That's exactly kind of what we've been preaching. We weren't perfect," Odessa College head coach Jeff Jackson said. "We have a lot of work still left to do, but they understand that and they understand that we're going to continue to fix the things that are maybe a negative right now while still building on the positive things that we do really well."
Deanda finished 1 for 4 with a double and two RBIs while Jade Laird went 2 for 4 with two singles and a run scored.
The Lady Wranglers had just seven hits, but it was just enough to get the job done.
"I think it gives us a little bit of confidence now that we got the first win under the belt," Deanda said. "First one I think is always the hardest. (We were) kind of playing scared, but now I feel like we can play more confident."
Angelina College (3-1) matched the Lady Wranglers with seven hits.
The Lady Wranglers (1-4) scored the first run of the game on an RBI single by Morgyn Fulgham in the bottom of the first.
Angelina College tied the game in third inning, taking advantage of an Odessa College error.
The Roadrunners took the lead in the fourth inning when Rachel Agnello hit a leadoff double and then scored on Jessica Husband's bunt single to put Angelina College on top, 2-1.
Angelina College added another run in the top of the fifth inning when Tristin Anders reached on a leadoff triple and scored on Kaylee Ancelot's single.
That's when the Lady Wranglers decided to fight back.
Having not tallied a hit since the second inning, Odessa College found its offensive spark in a leadoff single by Jade Laird in the fifth, followed by Deanda's RBI double to cut the deficit to one run.
Hernandez then made the defensive play of the game in the top of the sixth inning, when she caught a fly ball off the bat of Nikki Whitehead and then threw out Husband at the plate to end the inning.
The Lady Wranglers used that adrenaline rush to their advantage to take the lead on Deanda's fly ball.
Odessa College's Cori Turner then went back to the circle and, despite giving up a leadoff double, retired the Roadrunners without further damage to clinch the victory.
"Well, honestly, it was like all of a sudden the mentality changed and everybody got super pumped up," Turner said. "Defense was better. Pitching was better. Hitting just all of a sudden skyrocketed and we scored three runs out of nowhere.
"It felt so good winning today. My defense helped me out so much. Once defense is doing good, hitting started working and it's just kind of like a domino effect."
Step by step, Odessa College is gaining confidence one inning at a time.
Husband finished 2 for 3 with a single, double and an RBI while Anders went 2 for 4 with a double, triple and a run scored.
Angelina College pitcher McKenna Fryar tallied five strikeouts in a complete-game outing while walking four batters.
The Lady Wranglers will be a much more confident squad after overcoming the challenges they faced against the Roadrunners.
"Adjustments are key, for sure. I felt like we made enough of them while still having something we can build on to improve on," Jackson said. "Still a ton of freshmen and that's OK as long as we're continuing to learn, which I feel like we're definitely doing."
ARTICLE BY: PETER DINDINGER: ODESSA AMERICAN
PHOTO BY: JACOB FORD: ODESSA AMERICAN