ZACHARY — Before each at-bat, Abby Lewis took her bat and made the sign of the cross in the dirt before stepping up to the plate.
When asked if it was a superstition, the Zachary center-fielder said no.
“I’m at a point in my life where I have a lot of faith in things,” Lewis said with a smile.
The Broncos relied on her confidence Saturday.
Lewis had a hand in every run and knocked in the game-winning run with a single in the bottom of the seventh to give second-seeded Zachary a 3-2 victory over No. 15 Ruston in a Class 5A regional playoff softball game.
“In a situation like that, Abby’s the person you want to have at the plate,” Zachary coach Leslie Efferson-Yellott said. “Her desire to succeed and to win is stronger than her fear of failure. When you have that, it’s a great combination.”
With the win at Zachary Youth Park, the Broncos (24-5) advance to play seventh-seeded St. Amant (26-5), in Friday’s quarterfinals at the LHSAA’s Fastpitch 56 tournament in Sulphur. Ruston finishes 14-12.
“She’s a tough out,” Ruston acting coach Ricky Goulart said of Lewis. “It was the same way when we played them in Ruston (in a tournament) earlier this year. We tried to do some things to keep her off balance, but she got it done.”
Goulart took over for head coach Katie Giesse, who coached in Monday’s come-from-behind win over Dutchtown High, and then delivered a baby Tuesday.
The question on this day was whether or not the Bearcats could rally in the seventh inning to notch a third straight win. And it almost happened.
Ruston took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first. Brister Curry hit a leadoff single and later scored on an single by Kenzie Anderson, who finished 2-for-4 with two RBIs. Curry also was 2-for-3.
Lewis and right-fielder Alyssa Wittig went 2-for-3 for Zachary. The Broncos took a 2-1 lead in the third. Wittig doubled, took third on a groundout and scored on an Lewis’ bunt single that caromed off the glove of Ruston pitcher Kara Goff. After moving to third on another groundout, Lewis scored on a wild pitch.
Ruston loaded the bases twice on Zachary pitcher Baylie Doiron, but each time got just one run. Curry led off the top of seventh with a single, used an error and a wild pitch to move to third before scoring on Anderson’s sacrifice fly.
Doiron got two strikeouts to end the top of the seventh and finished with nine. With two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Wittig singled and shortstop Macie Pampel walked. Lewis stroked a 2-2 screwball up the middle to score Wittig and signal the start of the ZHS celebration.
Lewis said making it to the state tourney for a second straight year means “the world” to her team.
Efferson-Yellott added, “We really are a family, and I’m like a second Mom to all of them. They’re great kids, and we’ve got great support from the administration and our parents. We wanted to keep it going.”