STANDISH — When Emily McKenney was asked prior to Tuesday’s game what her game plan was, she answered with a blank stare.

“My pitching coach asked me what my strategy was, and I was like, ‘Um I don’t have one,'” McKenney said.

No strategy? No problem for McKenney and the Madison Bulldogs. The senior pitcher dominated Hall-Dale in a 2-0 Western C championship win at Bailey Field at Saint Joseph’s College, helping the Bulldogs to a second consecutive regional title.

Madison (18-1) had defeated Hall-Dale 7-1 and 6-2 earlier this season.

“I kind of just went with it,” McKenney said. “It’s hard to beat a team three times and we haven’t seen them since the beginning of the season. This time, we did a lot of ground-ball pitches. I definitely didn’t strike out a lot of people, but I think my plan was just trying to go with the flow and see how things end up.”

 Madison advances to Saturday’s Class C state championship game against Calais back at Bailey Field.

“I think the killer instinct was definitely there,” McKenney said. “Being in the state game and losing is definitely going to give us an edge because we want it so much more.”

McKenney allowed just two hits. She walked one and struck out six. She also made eight assists and at one point set down 14 consecutive Hall-Dale batters.

“She has really become a complete pitcher,” Madison coach Chris LeBlanc said. “She’s able to cover the bunt. We really worked on that type of stuff, whereas the first couple of years it was pitch the ball and stand in the circle. We teased her a little bit and told her, ‘That’s not jail. You can come out of that circle.'”

Though Madison has a sound defense and made no errors Tuesday, McKenney’s many assists was an uncommon occurrence. She recalls only one other game where she fielded so many.

“Everyone was like, ‘You want to do it all yourself don’t you?'” McKenney said. “I was like, ‘I’m too amped up. I can’t help it.’ Most of the time, I don’t have balls hit to me at all. When it happens, it’s a little shocking, but I just have to be calm.”

Hall-Dale pitcher Olivia Maynard kept her team close. She allowed six hits and walked just one while striking out a pair. Madison’s Kayla Bess had two of the hits while Aly LeBlanc, Erin Whalen, Alex Jarvais and Madeline Wood had the other hits.

Though Hall-Dale (14-5) had to survive 10 innings against Mountain Valley Monday, the team didn’t show any signs leftover from that grueling 9-8 semifinal.

“They were nice and relaxed,” Hall-Dale coach Christen Lachapelle said. “I was a little nervous that they’d come in and be a little in awe of a Madison team that is supposed to be here and being in the regional final, but they were relaxed.”

Though Hall-Dale stayed within reach, the team just couldn’t get anything going against McKenney.

“We just couldn’t punch it through,” Lachapelle said. “McKenney is the conference player of the year for a reason. She was on top of her game today. I don’t think it was a matter of us not trying or being timid. They wanted to push something through and do something.”

Hall-Dale didn’t get its first hit until pinch-hitter Liz Benner reached on an infield hit in the sixth with one out. McKenney had put down the first 16 of 17 batters she’d faced. She walked one batter in the first and then served up 14 straight outs. Hall-Dale got a lead-off single from Eve Shepherd in the seventh but two nice ground balls fielded at third by Savanna Kandiko and a strikeout ended the game.

“They all wanted this,” Lachapelle said. “They all wanted a different outcome but you’re looking at a very good Madison team. We had them 2-0. We just couldn’t put enough together.”

Madison got the first run in the second. Alex Jarvais doubled with two outs. Then Madeline Wood followed with a triple for the 1-0 lead.

The Bulldogs made it 2-0 in the third.  Bess reached on a bunt single. She advanced on a steal and fielder’s choice. She scored on a LeBlanc sacrifice bunt, narrowly beating the throw home from first.

Madison nearly added to the lead in the fourth.  Whalen singled with one out and advanced on a wild pitch. When Madeline Wood beat out an infield hit, Whalen burst for home but was thrown out at the plate. It was the third runner Hall-Dale has cut down at home in two days.

“I said, ‘No,’ and she thought I said, ‘Go,’ when they threw her out at home plate,'” LeBlanc said. “We got what we needed but we missed out on some opportunities.”

Madison only had one more base runner the rest of the way, a walk in the fifth. Though Madison had some experience returning from last year’s title team, the Bulldogs still had some young talent in the mix as well.

“We’ve got some young kids,” said LeBlanc. “We had to replace five starters from last year. Madeline Wood is a freshman and she did an outstanding job. We’ve got a lot of sophomores blended in, and we have really good chemistry.”

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