BREWER — Revenge isn’t the noblest motivator, but for the Bucksport High School softball team, especially pitcher Katelin Saunders, revenge was what stoked the competitive fire all season. The Golden Bucks were runners up in the Class C state championship game last season, and as they spent all spring trying to get back, they hoped it would be Madison, the team that took the title last year, in the opposing dugout.

“It motivated me extremely, because I knew I had to pull through. It was very important to me to pull out this win,” Saunders said.

Saunders certainly did her part. The junior was dominant Saturday afternoon at Coffin Field, striking out 13 while allowing just two hits to lead Bucksport to a 2-1 win and the Class C state crown.

Bucksports capped a perfect 20-0 season with the win, while Madison ends at 18-2.

Bucksport scored both runs in a weird bottom of the fifth that almost saw the Golden Bucks squander their best chance of the game. Bucksport opened the inning with four consecutive hits, but with two runners thrown out on the bases, had two out and nothing to show for it. When Madison pitcher Madeline Wood intentionally walked Madysen Robichaud, Bucksport’s three hitter, to load the bases, MaKenzie Smith came to the plate. Smith hit a low line drive to right field, and ball fell just in front of the charginf Emily Edgerly, scoring two runs and giving the Bucks a 2-1 lead.

“(Smith) drove an outside pitch nicely to right field. We were playing her back, and she it where we weren’t,” Wood said.

Whitney Bess led off the top of the sixth inning with a double to left center field, but the Bulldogs were unable to score. Madison went down in order in the top of the seventh, setting off Bucksport’s celebration.

Throughout the game, the Bulldogs had trouble with the hard-throwing Saudners. Madison didn’t pull a ball in play until Aishah Malloy reached on an error in the third inning. In last season’s state final, the Bulldogs were able to get to Saunders just enough to take a 3-1 win. On Saturday, that didn’t happen.

“She has very good command. She challeneged us. We brought some people in to do a couple extra things in practice the last couple of days. She’s dynamite,” Madison coach Chris LeBlanc said. “She’s got a couple of pitches, and she wants you to chase that high one. I thought we did good staying off that. We just were not able to put as many balls in play as we’d like.”

The Bulldogs had not faced a hard thrower like Saunders, Wood said.

“Our conference, pitching-wise, was pretty weak. The fastest we’ve seen is probably low 50s. So to have her come there and be throwing heat, we havent really seen that all season,” Wood said.

Madison took a 1-0 lead in the third. After Malloy led off reaching on a two-base error, Wood hit a sharp grounder up the middle with two outs to score the go ahead run.

“I was trying to stay off the high one. (Saunders) has a nice rise ball. I was trying to work aheasd in the count and find a pitch I could hit,” Wood said.

Bucksport stranded four runners on base in the first three innings, and Saunders knew she had to continue to pitch well.

“I knew I was on my A game. I was feeling it,” Saunders said. “I knew I had to thorw a lot of my breaking pitches. I had to hit my corners high and low, inside and outside. I didn’t let my guard down.”

Wood struck out two and walked three, on intentionally, while allowing six hits. For Madison, this was the third state game appearance in four seasons. The Buldogs won the title last season and in 2014.

“Two very deserving teams to be in it. We knew it was going to come down to pitching and just what happened, A hit here, a play there. We knew that was going to be the difference in the game,” LeBlanc said.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

tlazarczyk@centralmaine.com

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM