BREWER — The Madison Area Memorial High School softball team played for the Class C state title at Brewer’s Coffin Field in 2017, and lost. The Bulldogs played at Coffin for the state crown in 2013, and lost that game, too. On 2019, Madison couldn’t change the venue, but it could change its route.

“We’ve been here before. I’ve been here several times, and we came in a different way than we normally did. Coach Heath Cowan said ‘You’ve got to go this way.’ I said, ‘This isn’t the way we normally go,’ and he goes ‘Maybe that’s the difference,'” Madison head coach Chris LeBlanc said.

It was more talent than GPS directions at play Saturday afternoon for the Bulldogs. Madison jumped to an early lead, then rode the combined lockdown pitching of Lauria LeBlanc and Brooke McKenney to take a 7-1 win.

It was the second straight state title and fourth in six years for Madison (20-1). Dexter ends the season at 14-6.

Madison took the lead in the second inning. Katie Worthen led off with a single, swiped second base, and scored on Emily Edgerly’s double. Thanks to a throwing error, Edgerly also scored on the play, and the Bulldogs had a 2-0 lead.

“It was key for everyone to be working together, and keeping the energy up the whole time. Trusting each other,” Worthen said.

The Bulldogs broke opened a close game with four runs in the top of the fifth inning. Jen Dean led off with a single, and took second base when Jerzey Tewksbury reached on an error. Landyn Landry’s single scored Dean, and Tewksbury scored on a Lillian Levesque single for a 4-0 lead.

Brooke McKenney’s groundout to third scored Landry, and when Levesque scored on an error, the Bulldogs had a 6-0 lead. Coach LeBlanc kept his team aggressive on the bases, and told his hitters to be ready for a strong changeup from Dexter pitcher Avery Herrick.

“We were able to bunt and run a little bit and make things happen. If you just stand on the base, you can’t make things happen,” LeBlanc said.

The four errors were uncharacteristic of his team, Dexter coach Jason Hardy said.

“We’ve been strong defensively right through our playoff run, and today we had a few challenges. They took advantage of it, and it cost us,” Hardy said. “We had our chances early on. We couldn’t come up with that big hit when we needed it.”

Dexter stranded nine runners on base. The Tigers had chances to score early in the game, but came away with nothing. Dexter had runners on second and third base with one out in the first inning, and failed to score. The Tigers put runners on second and third again in the third, and again came up empty.

“It showed things will happen. Can you rebound? We were able to do that today, and they didn’t get caught up in the moment,” LeBlanc said.

Pinch runner Grace Linkletter scored from first base on a Dexter error in the sixth inning to give Madison a 7-0 lead. The Tigers answered with a run in the bottom of the sixth when Cheyenne Beem scored on Regan McNally’s hit, but that was all Dexter could muster off Madison’s strong pitching. Lauria LeBlanc started and went four innings for Madison, giving way to McKenney in the fifth. The duo combined to allow five hits and five walks to go with five strikeouts.

“We knew they were going to come with the lefty (LeBlanc) first then come with the righty (McKennery). That’s something we talked about and prepared for,” Hardy said. “I felt like we were just a little bit out in front of them, maybe expecting a little bit more speed on the fastball. We just couldn’t get our timing to square the ball up.”

Coach LeBlanc had used both pitchers throughout the season. On Saturday, he knew both would throw again, it was just a matter of when to make the change.

“It just felt right. We had that lead, but even if we didn’t have that lead, we were still going to go with her. You kind of look and see what people have done and where they are in the order, and it just throws them off,” LeBlanc said.

Herrick went the distance for Dexter, striking out five and surrendering seven hits.

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