MADISON — When the Madison softball team scored six runs in the first inning in Saturday’s Class C South semifinal against Monmouth, the Bulldogs knew they were in good shape. They hadn’t allowed more than four runs in a game all season, and they had Brooke McKenney pitching.

“We kind of bit the bullet in the first inning, and you can’t do that against Brooke McKenney, man. That’s the player of the year, the pitcher of the year. We dug ourselves a deep, deep hole,” Monmouth coach Dave Kaplan said.

In a quarterfinal win over Telstar, McKenney took a no-hitter into the seventh inning. Saturday afternoon, McKenney allowed just three hits and one walk while striking out 13, leading the Bulldogs to a 9-0 win and back to the regional championship game for the eighth consecutive season.

No. 2 Madison (18-1), which won state title in 2018 and 2019, will play in the Class C South final at 7 p.m., Tuesday at St. Joseph’s College in Standish. No. 3 Monmouth ends the season at 15-3.

“This team right here has exceeded expectations. As we say, St. Joe’s is our second home, and we’re excited to be back there,” Madison coach Chris LeBlanc said.

In the bottom of the first inning, the Bulldogs capitalized on three hits and two Monmouth errors to take early control of the game. After the Mustangs intentionally walked Arabel Linkletter to load the bases, Haley Parquet reached on an error, with two runs scoring. Abigail Linkletter followed with a two-run single.

“We talked about that (Friday) at practice, if we could get out and get a couple. Obviously, six was huge, with Brooke on the mound,” LeBlanc said.

That was more than enough run support for McKenney, who retired the first 11 batters of the game before walking Brooklyn Federico with two outs in the fourth inning. Katie Laliberte followed with a single for Monmouth’s first hit, but a McKenney strikeout ended the minor threat.

“I just believe in myself, so whatever pitch is called I have to be confident in my abilities and throw what I can throw,” McKenney said.

McKenney felt she was able to locate her fastball low and outside well. Kaplan agreed.

“She was locating her fastball really well, and she was bringing it,” Kaplan said.

McKenney and Abigail Linkletter each scored two runs for the Bulldogs.

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