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Lady Wranglers win Region V West championship
 May 7, 2013


LUBBOCK In the biggest game it has played all season, the Odessa College softball team came up huge.

The Lady Wranglers were firing on all cylinders Sunday as they soundly defeated rival Midland College 8-1 in the title game of the NJCAA Region V West Championship tournament at PlainsCapital Ballpark, wrapping up an unbeaten weekend that led to hoisting the trophy.

Eight of nine players in the Odessa College lineup hit safely in the game to rack up 13 hits, including home runs by Kaylyn Archuleta and Sammie Murrietta, plus a triple from Ciarra Galindo.

The defense played flawlessly, holding the Lady Chaparrals to a single run, despite Midland having the leadoff runner on base with no outs to start five of the seven innings. And the Lady Wranglers did not commit a single error.

Pitcher Rachel Thompson, the only 20-game winner in the Western Junior College Athletic Conference this season, picked up her 23rd victory in the circle, stifling Midland’s offense while inducing 18 ground ball outs.

“That moment was unbelievable,” Thompson said of the final grounder that second baseman Murrietta fielded to end the game. “It’s indescribable. It makes me emotional just thinking about it, because that’s everything that we’ve worked for this whole year.”

As soon as the final out was in the books, the Lady Wranglers (46-19) sprinted to the middle of the field, throwing their gloves into the air sparking an outburst of emotion.

OC had watched Midland College defeat No. 7-ranked Howard College 8-2 earlier in the day to set up the title game matchup and felt good about its chances.

The Lady Wranglers had already defeated Midland once in the tournament — a 4-1 victory Saturday — and had won four of five outings against the Lady Chaps going into the championship game.

Odessa College head coach Joel Prickett knew before his team took the field that it was focused on the task at hand and confident.

“The girls came out and they were ready,” Prickett said. “We drew Midland, which we have a lot of confidence in beating this year, and we just went out and executed. When we get on, we’re on and we can score some runs. Rachel threw a really effective game and it was a real great feeling.”

The Lady Wranglers had at least one baserunner in every inning, and scored in four of the five frames in which they batted.

Archuleta, whose two-run blast put OC up 4-0 in the bottom of the third, said the consistency of the offense was a big key to the title-clinching victory.

“We didn’t need one big inning,” she said. “We kept up the energy throughout the whole game. We started off strong and we ended strong.”

The Lady Wranglers’ approach was business as usual, not letting the magnitude of the game affect their performance at the plate or in the field.

“You always worry about getting the jitters and an easy play suddenly becomes hard,” Archuleta said. “But I’m real proud of the girls and their mindset of ‘we got a job to do and it’s just another game.’ This game only meant something after it was over.”

The Lady Wranglers now advance to the NJCAA Division I National Championships May 15-18 at the Canyons Complex in St. George, Utah.

Having won nine straight games, and 16 of their last 17, the Lady Wranglers are not looking for their season to end any time soon.

“I feel like we have a lot of potential,” said Murietta, who recorded six put outs to go along with her solo home run in the bottom of the fourth. “Everything leading up to this point has our team peaking at the right moment. We knew we weren’t going to come in (to the regional tournament) and smash every team. We needed to fight every single game, and we showed ourselves we can do that.”

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