OAKLAND — It did not come easy, but the Messalonskee softball team got to ring the bell one more time this season.

Lead-off hitter Madisyn Charest scored both of the Eagles’ runs, while starting pitcher Kirsten Pelletier went the distance and struck out six to pace Messalonskee to a 2-1 win over Edward Little in an Eastern Class A semifinal Saturday. The Eagles — who will play Bangor for the regional title at 3 p.m., Wednesday at Cony High School — celebrated their victory the same way they do all home wins, by ringing a bell located near the field.

“It’s just something that brings us together after a big win and it’s something to be proud of,” Pelletier said of the ritual. “It shows us that winning is a tradition here and we want to carry it on.”

Messalonskee coach Leo Bouchard admitted his team did not have its best performance of the season, but in the end it was still good enough to extend the Eagles’ season.

“We really didn’t bring our ‘A’ game, we really didn’t play that well, that strong,” Bouchard said. “We were making the errors — mental miscues, physical ones — but Kirsten seems to dig herself out of those holes. She seems to pitch a lot better under pressure. She’s a warm weather pitcher. The hotter it is, the better she is. I don’t understand that, but she does it.”

Charest opened the bottom of the first with a single, stole second and scored on a hit from Kristy Prelgovisk. Two innings later, she reached on an error and eventually came around to score to make it 2-0 Eagles, yet the Red Eddies did not go quietly.

Grace Beaudet cut the deficit in half with a run in the top of the fifth, and in the sixth, Pelletier found herself in a jam with both the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position with no outs. The junior right-hander managed to work her way out of the tough spot, though, by getting a pop out to right, strikeout and groundout back to her in the circle to end the threat.

Edward Little had runners on first and second with one out in the seventh, but once again Pelletier came through with a strikeout and groundout back to the circle to end the game.

Handling uncomfortable situations in stride is nothing new for Pelletier, though. While she has excelled as the team’s ace, she struggled early in the season batting at the top of the Eagles’ lineup.

“She was struggling, we had a chat, and I said, ‘hey, jeez, you’re batting .166 right now, it’s not helping us out, we need to make a change,'” Bouchard said. “(Charest) at the time was hitting over ,500. Actually, at one point in time during the season she was actually hitting .633.

“…(Pelletier) took it with a grain of salt. She said, ‘yeah coach, no problem.’ I said, ‘whatever you give us out on the mound, that’s our bread and butter. Whatever you do at the plate, that’s icing.'”

Pelletier even went as far as to say dropping her to seventh in the batting order was not only what was best for the team, but for her as well.

“(Charest) has done so good up there and I wasn’t producing like I should have up there,” Pelletier said. “I’m glad he moved me down there, actually. It takes a little bit of pressure off my shoulders if I’m going to pitch in the circle and then I can do what I can at the plate and not worry about leading (off for) the team.”

It was only fitting that one month later with Messalonskee’s season on the line it was Pelletier and Charest that came through in the circle and on the basepaths, respectively.

Evan Crawley — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Evan_Crawley