Prior to the start of the season, Carrabec softball coach Craig Knight was hoping his team might “squeak” into the playoff picture in Class C South.

The Cobras aren’t squeaking as the regular season winds to a close, however, They’re roaring.

Led by junior catcher and slugger Bailey Dunphy and her .740 batting average and four home runs, Carrabec has gone 10-5 in the Mountain Valley Conference and enters this weekend ranked fourth in the 15-team C South region.

“We’ve gotten some really good pitching, timely hitting and our defense is getting better and better,” Knight said. “We’ve made it work, and we’ve had a pretty good stretch the last couple of weeks.”

The Cobras have won six straight, including victories over No. 3 Monmouth and No. 7 Telstar, with one game remaining on the slate.

While Dunphy and classmate Samantha LeBeau, a pitcher, have done the bulk of the heavy lifting, it’s the supporting cast that’s had the biggest impact for Carrabec. Only three starters returned from last spring’s playoff team, but the new faces have more than held up their end of the bargain.

Freshmen Paige Giroux (third base) and Cheyenne Sirois (first base) have anchored the corner infield spots, allowing junior Makenzie Baker at shortstop and senior Lexie Cowan at second base to solidify a rapidly improving defense.

After committing seven errors in a loss to Winthrop and giving away the deciding run in the seventh inning in a loss to Lisbon, the Cobras righted the ship to go on their current winning streak.

“There was an extra focus after (the Lisbon loss),” Knight said. “I think the light came on. It was nothing we as coaches did, but they took responsibility themselves for that. It could have easily gone the other way, with them saying, ‘We’re supposed to lose these games.’ But they weren’t OK with losing.”

And that has Carrabec on the verge of a deep postseason run, something even their coach wasn’t sure was possible as recently as early April.

“We’ve been keeping it simple, which is big for our young players,” Knight said. “They’re doing the basics, doing their jobs, but knowing what the limits to their jobs are.

“Every one of them has a very good work ethic. I think that’s why we’re succeeding. They seem to be that team that can bend enough without breaking. They seem to have that knack.”

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Another team surging to the finish line is Messalonskee. After a dreadful start to the season for the defending Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A champions, the Eagles have won six in a row with one game remaining on their schedule.

At 9-6, Messalonskee finished the week fifth in the Class A North standings.

It’s a different team from the one that went 0-3 to start the year and dropped six of its first eight games.

“We certainly are,” coach Samantha Moore said. “It’s starting to come together. They’re starting to support each other more. They’re starting to believe in each other, and it’s showing.”

After scoring at least seven runs only once it its first seven games, Messalonskee has scored seven or more in each of its last four, including a season-high of 10 in a win over Cony on Monday.

“We went from all playing not together to now playing together,” senior center fielder McKenna Brodeur said. “It was iffy at the beginning, but we just had to bring it together. It’s coming together really well.”

The team’s approach at the plate has been a contributing factor. Moore said her team is as selective as any team in the league.

“As a team, we are very picky at the plate,” Moore said. “We like to decide which pitch we want to take, and we’re not afraid of fouling off the ones we don’t like until we can get the one that we do like.

“We’re looking forward to these (final) games, making plans and making any adjustments we need to make and surprising some people.”

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Madison junior catcher Ashley Emery might be the best leadoff hitter in the state, regardless of class.

Against Winthrop on Wednesday, Emery was a wrecking ball on the basepaths for the Bulldogs. She went 3 for 4, stole three bases and scored four runs out of the leadoff spot.

“We’ve got a couple of people in the league that are good leadoff hitters, but I would say that she’s one or two,” Madison coach Chris LeBlanc said. “I know someone else might think they have the top one, but she’s right there. Anytime she’s on, if she can see the ball, she’s going to go to second. It’s good to have.”

And Emery is almost always on. Last season as a sophomore, Emery led the Bulldogs in hitting and hasn’t missed a beat this year.

“Ashley’s always hitting the ball, always getting on base. Usually, she steals second, because she’s just that fast,” said third baseman Whitney Bess, charged with hitting in the No. 2 hole behind Emery. “She’s obviously a very big threat, because she’s so fast and so versatile. She can hit, she can bunt, she can do anything. It kind of gives me confidence that I can move her around and just get her home.”

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

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Twitter: @TBarrettGWC