WATSON — Control is a huge factor in softball, and it’s about more than what the pitcher does.
Zachary High’s 4-3 victory over Live Oak High in Class 5A second-round playoff action on Sunday provided a perfect case on point.
A 4-0 lead put the Broncos in control. There were some anxious moments. Live Oak scored twice in the fifth and had the tying run in scoring position in the bottom of the seventh.
Second baseman Macie Pampell’s leaping grab of a line drive off the bat of Ally Howard that appeared headed for right field started a game-ending double play at Live Oak Sports Park.
And the celebration began for 14th-seeded Zachary (20-11). The Broncos advance to the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Fast Pitch 56 state tournament for the first time in five years and play No. 6 East Ascension at 4 p.m. Friday at Sulphur’s Frasch Park.
“I knew it was hit pretty hard,” Zachary pitcher Baylie Doiron said. “But I knew I had a pretty tall second baseman and I thought she could get it.”
Questions about whether Zachary’s 5-4 win over the third-seeded Eagles (23-4) on April 8 was no fluke were answered.
“The crazy thing is we’ve had a lot of high and lows,” ZHS coach Leslie Efferson-Yellott said. “But we’re still improving and we’re still young. We’re getting better with each game and they were confident (Sunday).
“We felt like Amanda (Holliday) was going to be on the mound. We have a lot of respect for her and we think she’s a great pitcher. We just prepared to face her. I do think winning that first game gave us a lot of confidence.”
Doiron, who was 4-for-4 with an RBI, also struck out eight. Abby Lewis finished 2-for-3 with two RBIs. Doiron was one of two batters to get hits in the top of the first inning. Lewis delivered the first big blow. She led off the second with an inside-the-park home run.
The Broncos weren’t done. Pampell singled one out later and came around to score on a single by Doiron. Lewis walked in the third and scored when Britney Anderson drew a bases-loaded walk.
ZHS scored its final run in the fourth when Doiron singled and courtesy runner Deneisha Biagas eventually came home on a single by Lewis.
“I think when we got the lead we relaxed and they (Live Oak) tensed up a little,” Lewis said.
Live Oak stranded five runners in the first three innings, leaving three in scoring position. LOHS broke through with two runs in the fifth. Cameron Seals reached on an infield hit and scored on a double by Kelsey Miller.
A double by Gisselle Ash scored Miller. Ash finished 3-for-3 with an RBI, while Miller was 3-for-4 with an RBI. Miller reached on an infield hit with one out in the seventh and later scored on Virginia Cacioppo’s single before the game-ending double play.
“I thought it was a hard-fought game by teams,” Live Oak coach Michelle Morris said. “They got a couple of timely hits early in the game. It’s one those games where you wish you had one more inning.”