ZACHARY — Central High’s softball team took living on the edge a step too far Tuesday evening at the Zachary Youth Park. As a result, Zachary bounced the Wildcats out of the Class 5A playoffs with a 4-1 win.
The 19th-seeded Wildcats (15-12) worked out of jams in the fourth and fifth innings, but No. 14 Zachary (19-11) finally broke through with a four-run fifth.
It was enough to make a winner out of Zachary pitcher Baylie Doiron, who went the distance for the Broncos in the game played at Zachary Youth Park.
“When you play with fire, you get burned,” Central coach Michelle Efferson said. “We let one inning do us in.”
The game was the third of the season between the District 4-5A rivals. Interestingly, the Broncos advance to play another 4-5A rival, Live Oak, in the regional round.
Tuesday game looked like a toss-up. Each team had posted a convincing win at the others’ ballpark during the regular season, but that changed.
Doiron retired Central in order for the first three innings, but the Wildcats bunched together three hits in the third to take a 1-0 lead. Reagan Willis led off with a triple down the right field line. She scored easily on Bayliegh Anders single.
Central had a chance for more after Emily Danehower’s single had runners at first and second with one out.
Bailie Johnson then blooped an apparent single into center. Willis, who held up to make sure the ball wasn’t caught, was forced out at third on a pinpoint throw by Broncos centerfielder Abby Lewis.
Doiron struck out Heather Zumo to end the threat.
“We were very prepared,” Zachary coach Leslie Yellott said. “I didn’t see any of the girls pressing (when it was 1-0). We didn’t panic.”
Zachary left the bases loaded in the third and had a runner thrown out at the plate in the fourth. In the fifth, the Broncos took advantage of three walks to go along with aggressive baserunning to take the lead. All totaled the Broncos sent 10 batters to the plate.
Malloree Milton and Doiron walked to start the inning. Milton was thrown out at the plate on Tegan Scott’s grounder, but Hannah Dixon was hit by a pitch to load the bases for Lakyn Wales.
Wales delivered a two-run single to right-center, and Lewis followed with an RBI single to left. It was enough to chase Central’s Zumo, who had pitched a six-hit complete game in the Wildcats’ 9-0 win on March 17.
Carlie Schenk’s RBI fielder’s choice brought home Wales with the inning’s final run.
Central was unable to take advantage of a sixth inning walk. In the seventh, a hit batter and a single had two Wildcats on with two outs. Madeline Tarver flied out to first to end the game.
Doiron finished the game having allowed one run on three hits. She struck out seven and walked one.
“She’s come such a long way,” Yellott said of Doiron. “She’s taken the time to learn her pitches one by one. Its amazing to watch her.”