Members of the Hall-Dale softball team erupt during a Class C South quarterfinal game against Monmouth on Thursday in Farmingdale. Kennebec Journal photo by Andy Molloy

FARMINGDALE — The Hall-Dale softball team earned the No. 2 seed in the Class C South tournament by blending senior leadership with an athletic rookie class. So it came as no surprise Thursday that the recipe delivered the most delicious dish of the season.

Senior catcher Alyssa Bonenfant started the go-ahead three-run rally in the sixth inning with a triple to center field, freshman cleanup hitter Iris Ireland delivered her and Sarah Benner home, and No. 2 Hall-Dale made the rally hold up for a 9-7 win over No. 7 Monmouth in a regional quarterfinal. The Bulldogs (14-3) advanced to the regional semifinals for the first time since 2016, where either Sacopee Valley or Lisbon await in Saturday’s matchup. Monmouth finished 12-6.

“I think it’s just the positive energy we have in the dugout,” said Bonenfant, who missed all of 2018 with a back injury. “Last year, I was in the dugout all year. I worked so hard to get up here and my teammates pushed so hard to get me back here, I just thought, ‘I need to execute here.’ That’s what coach told me to do.”

“One through nine, we get the bat on the ball,” Hall-Dale coach Steve Acedo said. “Three freshman in the lineup batting third, fourth and seventh, they have a lot of pressure on them, but they’ve performed. And the senior leadership on this team was way more than I could have asked for this year.”

Hall-Dale trailed three times — by scores of 2-0, 5-1 and 7-6 — but rallied back each time in a game in which both teams had ample opportunities to put the other away.

“They had a couple of big hits, gap shots that got to the fence, and we didn’t get those,” Monmouth coach Dave Kaplan said. “Haylee (Langlois) hit a couple of balls dead on the screws, but right at people. We had some hard hits, just right at people.”


Monmouth scored twice in the top of the sixth to erase the Bulldogs’ first lead of the afternoon and grab a one-run lead. But that rally, without the aid of a single base hit, left the bases loaded and Kaplan and his charges wondering ‘What if?’

Hall-Dale infielder Isabella Marino can’t make the tag on Monmouth runner Erin Gosselin at second during a Class C South quarterfinal game Thursday in Farmingdale. Kennebec Journal photo by Andy Molloy

Abby Flanagan raced home from third on Bonefant’s errant pickoff attempt at third base, but Benner (seven walks, one hit batter) snared a comebacker for the final out of the inning. That opened the gates for Bonenfant to begin the home half of the frame with a triple to center and Ireland to drive home the eventual winning run. Senior first baseman Grace Begin’s RBI groundout added an insurance run.

“Those are the most fun innings,” Ireland said. “I like the low (pitches). I was just trying to get a hit. I was just trying to get on base, and it happened. Right before I passed second, I realized the ball was still way out there and I could make it (to third).”

Monmouth put the leadoff batter aboard in all but the fifth and seventh innings against Benner. Despite all the traffic, the Mustangs couldn’t get more.

A three-run fourth highlighted by a two-run single from Emily Kaplan (2 for 5) could have been bigger, but Benner got Mariah Herr to fly out to deep center to strand two runners in scoring position. The two-run sixth inning saw the bases left loaded for Monmouth after an interference call on the base paths disrupted the offensive flow.

Hall-Dale shortstop Bella Marino bobbled a grounder off the bat of Kaplan, but when Emma Johnson made contact with Marino she was ruled out — the first out of the inning compounded by a runner being taken out of scoring position.


“Huge obstruction call, which I still disagree with. Took us out of a huge, huge inning, bases loaded with nobody out,” Kaplan said. “I’m not going to say that cost us the game — one play never costs you the game — and we threw the ball around at the wrong times. They just outlasted us. That’s a good team over there.”

Monmouth runner Emma Johnson tries to avoid Hall-Dale infielder Isabella Marino as she lunges for the ball at third base during a Class C South quarterfinal game Thursday in Farmingdale. Kennebec Journal photo by Andy Molloy

The teams combined to make 10 errors, post more runs (16) than hits (12), and each team struck out only once. With Herr and Benner two pitchers relying on pitching to contact, neither coach was surprised.

“We made some timely plays,” Acedo said. “We made the mistakes that put them in scoring position, but then we made the plays that really helped.”

Lilly Platt was 2 for 2 with an RBI single in a four-run fourth inning which erased a sloppy start from the Bulldogs and tied the game at 5-5. Riley Johnson added a two-run base hit in the inning, and Begin also drove in a run.

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