Consider it a wake-up call.
That's how Odessa College head softball coach Karina Cannon saw Friday's games, anyway.
After two frustrating losses during her team's final tune-up before conference play, she hopes her players see the same cause for alarm.
The Lady Wranglers had won 11 of their last 13 games, including seven of their last eight, before Friday — but dropped both ends of a doubleheader Friday afternoon to Tyler Junior College at the OC Softball Complex.
Tyler downed OC 9-5 in the day's opener before winning the second game 15-7 in five innings.
After the losses, Cannon said she knew that her team was capable of playing at a higher level — but that she also knows the Lady Wranglers will have to start doing that quickly, starting the next time they return to the diamond for their WJCAC opener.
"Before we went into this I knew that Tyler was going to be a competitive team, but to be quite honest with you, we beat ourselves up a lot today," Cannon said.
"We didn't pitch well. We hit OK. We had mental mistakes. Our enthusiasm was lacking," she added. "It just falls back on us and what we need to do every day that we step out on the field in order to be successful."
Odessa College tallied 15 hits in the first game of the day, but couldn't convert many of those baserunners into scorers. Tyler had just nine hits, but won 9-5.
In the nightcap, Odessa College matched Tyler's early offensive explosion, scoring five runs in the bottom of the first to take the lead after Tyler plated four runs in the top of the first.
But from there, Tyler's bats stayed hot while OC's cooled.
Tyler scored four more runs in the top of the second to go up 8-5. In the bottom of the third, the Lady Wranglers made a push, sending two runs across to make it 8-7, but Odessa College didn't touch home plate again and Tyler used a big, seven-run top of the fifth to pull away and end the game after five innings.
Mikayla Krause's two-RBI double was part of that five-run rally for the Lady Wranglers in the bottom of the first. Krause crossed the plate an at bat later on Taylor Fogle's RBI single to cap the run.
But Tyler took the lead back immediately in the top of the second. After an RBI single tied the game, Brittany Kennett took to the circle in relief of starter Veronica Garcia, but with no outs and two on, Kennett couldn't get out of the inning without Tyler pushing three more runs across the plate.
Winter Ridgeway stepped into the circle for OC in the top of the third and held Tyler scoreless, allowing the Lady Wranglers to make a move in the bottom of the third. Fogle drove in Brooke Ryan with an RBI single before Brandi Kennedy drove in Fogle during the next at bat to make it a one-run game at 8-7.
But after a scoreless fourth, Tyler blew the lid off in the fifth. Seven hits, including four doubles, led to seven runs scoring in the inning and effectively ended the game.
Odessa College (14-9) now has two weeks off before it opens WJCAC play against Frank Phillips College on March 17.
In that time, Cannon will look for her Lady Wranglers to take strides forward.
"I'm going to say a lot to the girls, about a lot of things, but basically: remembering how to play like Odessa College plays, and focus on what we're trying to achieve and accomplish — because today we did not do that," Cannon said.
With two weeks left for the Lady Wranglers to stew on these losses before league play begins, Cannon hopes the results can serve as a warning to her team to get back to doing just that before conference play.
"I hope so," she said. "It falls in a good time, but it always hurts. It's never something you want to happen, but sometimes it needs to."
Article by Justin Lee OA