STANDISH — Madeline Wood left nothing to chance Wednesday afternoon.

The Madison Area Memorial High School senior pitcher turned in her best game of the season when the top-seeded Bulldogs needed it most, keying a 10-run rally in the fifth inning to complement a dominant pitching performance in a 12-0 win over No. 2 Winthrop in the Class C South regional championship game at Bailey Field on the campus of St. Joseph’s College. It was the second straight regional title for the defending Class C state champions, who will play for the state title game Saturday at noon at Brewer High School.

Wood went 2 for 4 with four RBIs, all in the fifth inning, as Madison won for the 38th time in its last 39 games dating back to the regional tournament in 2015.

“Madeline was definitely on today,” Madison junior center fielder Sydney LeBlanc said. “We were really ready to go today. We had a good couple of days at practice this week, and we were ready. It’s an incredible feeling.”

Batting with the bases loaded and nobody out in the fifth, Wood swatted a pitch from Winthrop’s Layne Audet off the base of the fence in left-center field to open up a 4-0 lead for Madison (18-1).

LeBlanc (1 for 2, 2 RBIs) followed with an RBI single to left, and by the time the dust had settled the Bulldogs had sent 13 batters to the plate, scored 10 runs and put an early end to the contest.

It was in stark contrast to the first four innings, when Madison scored twice in the first inning but then found itself needing to do everything possible to hold off a determined group of Ramblers.

“We definitely felt it coming,” LeBlanc said of the big inning. “We were making sure to keep up our energy in the dugout. We kept having really good innings out in the field, so we knew it was coming.”

LeBlanc and junior shortstop Annie Worthen each drove in runs in the first inning to give Madison a 2-0 lead. But when freshman Lauria LeBlanc was thrown out at the plate trying to tag up and score on Ashley Emery’s fly ball to shallow left, things tightened up in a hurry.

Madison head coach Chris LeBlanc said he could feel a shift in the game almost immediately.

“I hurt us a little bit in that second inning when I took that chance,” he said. “That gave them a little bit of momentum, and we kind of sulked a little bit. It was just a matter of time.”

Winthrop (13-6) took the momentum and seized upon it, threatening to claw back into the game in the fourth. The Ramblers put runners at second and third with just one out, but Wood posted back-to-back strikeouts to end the threat and keep Winthrop off the board.

In the fifth, Winthrop again put the leadoff hitter aboard but came up short when Wood recorded her eighth and ninth strikeouts of the day — the final one coming on a changeup that had Winthrop leadoff hitter Kate Perkins off-balance almost from the moment it left her hand.

“When that’s on, it changes their whole timing of the pitch,” Wood said. “It really helped to throw them off. They never know it’s coming.”

Wood allowed just four hits, only two of them out of the infield, without issuing a walk to earn the win.

“My locations were on, my changeup was on, and I felt confident in the pitches I was throwing,” said Wood, who gave plenty of credit to her catcher Emery. “She can see where batters are set up in the box, and that’s what we set up our locations off of. It’s changed the whole thing.”

Emery took over calling pitches late in the season.

“Our focus was to make sure (Wood) was ready,” Chris LeBlanc said of the pre-game routine. “She doesn’t have a lot of pitches, but she has a fastball and a changeup and she moves them around a little bit. That’s what you’ve got to do.”

Winthrop batters struck out four times looking and the Ramblers made four errors in the game, all signs — head coach Chuck Gurney said — of a team battling some jitters on a big stage against a team that beat them twice during the Mountain Valley Conference regular season.

“There’s a reason they’ve won 38 out of their last 39 games,” Gurney said. “They’re a top-notch group over there. … This was an experience for (us), and I could see the nerves. But, as I told the underclassmen, we’ll be back.”

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter; @TBarrettGWC

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