MADISON — Madison is one win away from its dream of three consecutive regional titles.

The top-seeded Bulldogs scored twice in the first inning to take the lead, then opened it up with three unearned runs in the second to defeat No. 5 Monmouth in the Western C softball semifinals.

Monmouth (10-8) put Madison in an early hole. Senior Caroline Bonenfant and Shannon Buzzell accounted for all four Monmouth hits with a single and double apiece. Their doubles came back-to-back in the top of the first, with Buzzell driving in Bonenfant to give the Mustangs an early 1-0 lead.

Madison answered in the bottom of the first with a sacrifice fly by Erin Whalen and a bases-loaded ground ball by Ashley Emery that put the Bulldogs in front.

“We just got runners on and were able to bunt the ball, move runners over, run the basepaths smart and continue to do what we’ve continued to do all year long,” Madison coach Chris LeBlanc said.

Kayla Bess added an RBI double and Sydney LeBlanc ripped an RBI triple and scored on an overthrow in Madison’s five-run fourth.

Madeline Wood and Kayla Bess combined in the circle to limit the Mustangs to four hits. Wood rebounded from the rocky first inning to blank the Mustangs through the remainder of her five innings, then Bess came on for two shutout innings in relief.

“It takes (Wood) a while (to get going). Sometimes her change isn’t right on but we don’t go away from it,” Chris LeBlanc said. “She’s got that drive. She’s got that mental toughness that it may not be working but we keep throwing it. I think she is always in a position where she keeps the batters off balance.”

“We had baserunners. We had opportunities,” Monmouth coach Dave Kaplan said. “They’re the better team, there’s no question. But we certainly didn’t play very well today.”

The Bulldogs (17-1) will face No. 3 Telstar (16-2) in the regional finals at 3 p.m. next Wednesday at St. Joseph’s College. The Rebels knocked off No. 2 Hall-Dale, 3-2.

“Look forward to it,” Chris LeBlanc said. “I have the highest regard for coach (Jim) Lunney at Telstar. They’ve got a team that’s always ready to play.”