(Standish ME) The first half-inning was a three-run disaster for Madison and shortstop Virgina Worthen (3 errors).
But this was a seven-inning game and the Bulldogs, including Virginia, recovered strongly and won the Class C tile, 7-3, over Narragaugus on Saturday afternoon at St. Joseph’s.
“We settled down after the first inning,” said Madison coach Chris LeBlanc afterwards. “Mistakes are going to be made. They knew to leave them behind and go to the next play.”
The undefeated Bulldogs (20-0) got a run back in their half of the first and then gained significant separation with a five-run second.
I realize that there were five innings left and time for a Narraguagus comeback, but Madison’s Lauria LeBlanc (Coach LeBlanc’s cousin’s daughter) overwhelmed the team from Harrington after the dust cleared from those three unearned first-inning runs.
The sophomore retired fifteen straight Lady Knights before Kylee Joyce grounded a hard single to left with two outs in the sixth inning.
Lauria finished with fourteen strikeouts and no walks. She allowed only two hits.
“Their pitcher pitched a great game,” said Narraguagus coach Tracie Martin. “We got those three runs in the first inning and she shut us down for the next six.”
As Lauria began to settle in during the early innings, the Madison bats and baserunning started to unsettle the Lady Knights.
Senior Ashley Emery started the Madison first with a beautiful bunt. Ashley then took advantage of a passed ball (catcher Kaci Alley) and not only reached second but third as well. From there, Whitney Bess’s fielder’s choice brought Ashley in.
The Lady Knights, however, still held a 3-1 lead after the first inning. That lead disappeared in the second inning.
A bad combination of walks and clutch hitting generated five runs for Madison.
Pitcher Lanie Perry walked three in that second inning and all of them scored.
Lauria LeBlanc walked harmlessly to lead off the inning. Lanie then K’d the next two batters (She had eight strikeouts in the game).
But then sophomore Emily Edgerly, as she had done in the regional finals, whacked a triple into the gap in right center scoring Lauria.
The next two batters reached to load the bases for Sydney LeBlanc. The MHS senior ripped a hard shot down the opposite line (she’s a left-handed batter) to clear the bases. Suddenly, the Bulldogs were up 5-3.
Madison wasn’t done. Senior Virgina Worthen drove Sydney across with a hard liner off 3B Kyle Joyce’s glove. That put the team from the Mountain Valley Conference in front 6-3.
“They (Narraguagus) hadn’t been in a big game like this before,” said Virgina. “We knew we could come back.” (2002 was the last time Narraguagus was in a title game.)
Regarding the three first-inning errors: “For some reason I started off really nervous. I was glad to put those three errors out of my system.”
Lauria LeBlanc dominated the rest of the game. “They hadn’t face a lefty before,” explained Lauria. “My ball spins outside to right-handed batters.”
Coach LeBlanc had praise for catcher Ashley Emery: “I thought that Ashley called an outstanding game, mixing it up, calling for some changeups.”
Ashley Emery: “Lauria’s outside pitch was effective as well as her changeup. Part of what I called was based on where the batter was standing.”
Madison added an unearned run in the sixth inning. A drop by LF Anna Strout and a bad throw by pitcher Lanie Perry enabled Emily Edgerly to give the Bulldogs an extra run.
The Lady Knights (18-2) were disappointed by the final result but hoped for better things next year. Their lone graduate is shortstop Madison Leighton.
Lanie Perry: “We made some errors that were costly. We need to keep our chins up. Hopefully we come back better next year.”
Lanie also told me afterwards that now that the season is over she can get back to her lobster boat. The Cherryfield native has a commercial license.
Coach Tracie Martin: “The second inning was the turning point. Their 9th hitter (Emily Edgerly) had a big hit in the regional finals too. It wasn’t a total shock that she did it again.”
Emily and Ashley Emery both scored two runs. Sydney LeBlanc had three RBI.
Narraguagus, from the Penobscot Valley Conference, was 15-3 last year.
The Lady Knights came into today’s game averaging nearly 14 runs per outing.
The Bulldogs have been in thirteen title games including five of the last six. They recently won titles in 2014 and 2016.
Coach Chris LeBlanc was honored by the Madison faithful after the game. It was his 100th win as head coach. He has a remarkable 100-4 record counting today’s game.
The Bulldogs graduate six starters but pitcher Lauria LeBlanc is not one of them.
I saw junior Mckenna Smith get nineteen strikeouts in last year’s Class B Old Town win at St. Joe’s. I was surprised that OT didn’t return to the Class B title game this year with Mckenna still pitching for them.
I got to Standish, from North Bridgton, over an hour early and it seemed as if I was the last one to arrive! The teams were working out, the fans were in place, and the second-story pressbox was filled. I was told that I could sit in an elevated seat beyond the fence in left field. That turned out to be a great place to watch a game. It was covered and elevated. It was a poor man’s “green monster” seat!
I am posting my scorebook. Understand that I was nearly 100 yards from the official scorer.
(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)