MADISON — According to the godfather of sabermetrics, Bill James, teams score nearly 80 percent of the time when the leadoff batter in an inning reaches base. That being the case, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Madison Area Memorial High School softball team turned leadoff runners into crucial runs a full 100 percent of the time Friday afternoon.

The unbeaten Bulldogs scored three runs in the first inning, three in the sixth and added single runs in the second and fifth frames — every time, the result of a leadoff hitter reaching — in an 8-2 Mountain Valley Conference win over Oak Hill at Campbell Field.

“I’m very impressed with our team atmosphere with regard to making plays,” Madison coach Chris LeBlanc said after his team improved to 8-0 at the midway point of the season. “That’s why Ashley Emery is where she is (in the leadoff spot). If she can just make contact, she can get to the next base. We can do so many things when she’s on there.”

Emery, a junior catcher, reached base in all four of her plate appearances via a walk, a single, a hit-by-pitch and an error, wreaking havoc on the Raiders all afternoon. Emery scored two runs and stole a pair of bases.

“I just know that I have to get on to start it off, and it just builds from there,” Emery said. “I’m always looking for the extra base and trying to go as hard as I can. Just one run can make a difference in a game.”

Things did not get off to a good start for Oak Hill (5-2), which found itself playing catch-up almost from the start. Madison scored three times in the home half of the first without the benefit of a hit, taking advantage of a pair of Raider errors in the inning to help set up Sydney LeBlanc’s fielder’s choice that brought both Madeline Wood and Annie Worthen around to score.

Madison junior second baseman Marah Hall doubled to lead off the second and came home on an Emery infield single for a 4-0 lead.

“I think the nerves got the better of us,” Oak Hill coach Allyson Collins said of her team’s bad start defensively. “We just gave them way too many outs.”

Madison wasn’t the only team with a strong performance from the top of its lineup Friday. The first four spots in the Oak Hill order combined to go 10 for 16, including a 3-for-4 effort from catcher Abby Nadeau that included three doubles. But behind the big bats in the top four, the Oak Hill’s bottom five went just 1 for 17 against Wood.

In all, the Raiders left 11 runners stranded, including nine in scoring position.

“We just couldn’t get it done. We had plenty of hits, we just couldn’t string them together,” said Collins, who has been without all-MVC slugging catcher Emma Hlister since opening day. “Against a team like Madison, you have to. You’ve got to take the opportunities when you get them.”

Wood might not have had her best stuff, surrendering a season-high 11 hits, but she was masterful in pitching out of jams. She stranded Nadeau at third in the second by retiring the next three in order, and got Nadeau looking at a called third strike over the outside corner to leave the bases loaded in the third.

The only runs Oak Hill scored came in the fourth, on Sadie Waterman’s two-run single down the left field line with one out, but Wood — after giving up back-to-back hits to start the fifth — retired the side in order to strand two more in scoring position. She did the same in the sixth and left a runner at third in the seventh to close out the game.

Wood finished with eight strikeouts, but they largely came just when she needed them most to get out of trouble.

“Madeline did really good today. She was hitting all of her spots,” Emery said. “Her changeup was working really well.”

After Emery scored to make it 5-2 in the fifth on Annie Worthen’s RBI single to center, Madison turned three straight hits to begin the seventh into three insurance markers. Hall and Aishah Malloy each drove in runs in the inning.

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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