BETHEL – Candace Hall stood and waited. Then she waited a little longer and continued to stand on the mound patiently.

It became apparent that she was expecting a sign from catcher Sarah Field, who didn’t realize she had not signaled a pitch, yet.

It prompted a sizable smile from the Telstar pitcher and a hearty laugh. The fact that the bases were loaded and the Rebels were battling for their playoff lives seemed insignificant. When Field provided the sign, Hall promptly produced a ground-ball out to secure a 3-1 Western C win over Sacopee Valley on Thursday.

“That was good,” said Hall. “She was just looking at the ground and looking around. That was good. That really helped lighten the mood.”

Top-ranked Telstar (15-1) now hosts Monmouth in Saturday’s semifinal. The defending state champs have just two starters back from last year. Others were on the roster but saw limited playoff action. So the rematch with the Hawks was their time to shine.

“It felt like any other game until the last inning when the bases were loaded,” said senior Joseline Belanger. “Then it was scary.”

Despite limited playoff mileage, the Rebels barely flinched in a staredown with Sacopee (10-7). Telstar broke the stalemate with three runs in the bottom of the sixth and held its composure as Sacopee threaten in the seventh.

Telstar beat Sacopee 1-0 in the regional final last year on Jessie Farrington’s no-hitter. This time, it was Hall quieting the Hawks’ bats. She hurled a one-hitter until three hits in the seventh. She struck out nine and didn’t walk any.

“Candace was ahead in the count and didn’t give them much,” said Telstar coach Jim Lunney.

The Rebels finally got to Sacopee’s Whitney Stacey in the sixth. Stacey labored to throw strikes, and the Rebels took advantage. Belanger and Vicki Rice each walked with one out.

“Coach at the beginning of the game told us to swing at the first pitch because we wanted to be aggressive,” said Belanger. “After she started to get tired, he told us not to swing at the first pitch.”

Hall kept the momentum going when her bunt with two strikes barely stayed fair, loading the bases.

“That two-strike bunt was a big-time play,” said Sacopee coach Tim Vacchiano. “That’s a gutsy play. Then they get a break because it stayed literally on the chalk. Those are the breaks of the game.”

After a strikeout inched the Hawks closer to an escape, a wild pitch allowed Belanger to score.

“I was waiting for it,” said Belanger. “I was looking for the wild pitch because she was wicked tired. (Lunney) said, ‘As soon as you see it go by, you run.'”

Megan Smith followed with a grounder that glanced off the glove of the first baseman, allowing two runs to score for a 3-0 lead.

The Hawks tried to rally when Britni Murch singled in the seventh. With one out, Anna Allard had an infield hit and Autumn Jones followed with an RBI single. An error on a Danica Barrows hit loaded the bases. Hall got a pop up to Whitney Mills at third and served up a grounder to Vicki Rice to end the game.

“I was just trying to relax and just think about the pitch and get it to Sarah’s glove,” said Hall.

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