Oak Hill’s Rylea Swan stands safely at second base as Madison’s Marah Hall fields throw during a softball game on Monday. (David Leaming/Kennebec Journal)
MADISON — Two teams known for piling up both runs and extra-base hits found themselves battling at a game of small ball Monday afternoon.
The Madison softball team remained unbeaten on the season, riding an unearned second-inning run and a pair of manufactured scores in the third to a 3-1 win over Oak Hill in a Mountain Valley Conference game at Campbell Field.
Sophomore pitcher Lauria LeBlanc held the Raiders (7-2) to just four hits in a remarkably efficient effort. She also drove in a run with a sacrifice fly in support of herself. Senior first baseman Aishah Malloy also drove in a run as the Bulldogs got out to a 3-0 lead.
“I figured we’d get a couple more runs, but we didn’t,” LeBlanc said. “We all fought back in at the end.”
Madison improved to 10-0 on the season as it tries to win a third straight regional championship.
LeBlanc was only slightly better than Oak Hill junior Sadie Waterman.
Waterman held Madison to just six hits. She struck out three and didn’t issue a walk.
LeBlanc, though, struck out five in her four-hit effort with only one walk. Where the Raider defense made four errors behind Waterman, the Bulldogs made just two, which LeBlanc was able to clean up.
In fact, during a stretch of 11 of 13 retired by LeBlanc, the only two runners to reach were via error — a throwing error by LeBlanc herself in the third and a dropped fly ball by left fielder Emily Edgerly in the fourth.
“I’ve really tried to work on my changeup and get them off-balance, which is really helping,” LeBlanc said. “I felt really good about (only one walk).”
With runners at first and third with two outs for Oak Hill in the sixth, LeBlanc struck Miranda Kramer out to end the threat. She also closed the Raiders out with a 1-2-3 seventh, including Waterman on a hard ground ball to second to end the game.
All about timing
Madison had chances to blow the game open, both early and late, but could not cash in. The Bulldogs loaded the bases with one out in the first inning before coming up empty, and in the seventh they got two aboard with two outs and came up short.
In all, Madison stranded seven runners on base, five in scoring position. The Bulldogs were 0-for-8 on the day with runners in scoring position.
“It’s going to kind of go ebbs and flows for us, and right now we’re winning with not playing our best game,” Madison coach Chris LeBlanc said.
While Madison put the leadoff batter on in each of the first three innings, Oak Hill struggled to do the same, and it cost the Raiders.
Only once through seven innings did Oak Hill’s leadoff hitter reach, on Kramer’s fifth inning single — which turned out to be the only run the Raiders produced. Kramer scored on a Waterman single to right.
“We’ve only faced two teams that have really top-notch pitching, and we hadn’t seen a really good pitcher since Winthrop at the beginning of the season,” Oak Hill coach Allyson Collins said. “It took us too long to get our bats on the ball and we gave them way too many extra outs. They capitalized. It’s Madison.”
Oak Hill entered the game having scored 51 runs over its previous four games, but LeBlanc didn’t let that change her approach.
“I just go into it thinking that we need to get 1-2-3 every inning,” LeBlanc said. “No matter what team we face, we need to do the same thing.”
Oak Hill hosts Hall-Dale on Wednesday, while Madison is at Telstar. The Raiders and Bulldogs meet again in Wales on May 25.
Madison’s Sydney LeBlanc slides into third base as Oak Hill’s Julia Noel fields throw during a softball game on Monday. (David Leaming/Kennebec Journal)Madison’s Sydney LeBlanc slides safely into home plate as Oak Hill’s catcher Abby Nadeau attempts the tag during a softball game on Monday. (David Leaming/Kennebec Journal)