MADISON — There’s no place like home. Or a second home.

Following the Madison softball team’s regional quarterfinal win over Maranacook last week, head coach Chris LeBlanc lauded the efforts of his seven seniors as they ensured they’d play one more game on Campbell Field. The goal, he said, was to finish things off and earn a trip to St. Joseph’s College in Standish.

St. Joe’s, it turns out, has become the Bulldogs’ home-away-from home.

Unbeaten Madison (18-0) returns to Standish on Tuesday for the Class C South championship game, the Bulldogs’ sixth straight appearance in the regional finals, all of them at St. Joe’s. No. 1 Madison will play No. 2 Sacopee Valley (16-2) at 7 p.m.

“For the seniors, they don’t know any different,” LeBlanc said of advancing to another regional final, after the Bulldogs beat Winthrop 12-2 Saturday in the semis. “We want to go to our second home at St. Joe’s.”

Madison won the Class C state championship in 2014 and 2016, losing in the state finals in 2013 and again last season. In 2015, the Bulldogs lost in the regional final to Telstar.


One has to go all the way back to 2012 to find the last time Madison was bounced from the tournament prior to the regional championship round. That season, it lost to Dirigo in the C South semifinals.

For every member of the current Madison roster, every season has ended at St. Joe’s.

“It’s just the winning tradition in Madison,” senior third baseman Whitney Bess said. “The state championship is what we always look for from Day 1. It’s what we write on the white board. Definitely, this is the time of year to peak.”

LeBlanc, though, believes the foundation for championship success is put in place long before the playoffs. In fact, he thinks it’s before any players even put on the blue Madison jersey.

It starts much earlier than that.

“It goes all the way back to, you’re not going to make softball players in ninth grade,” LeBlanc said. “It’s a testament to all of the fathers who have done what they’ve done with our 10 and under, our 12 and under teams. We had a little cycle there where it hasn’t happened for the last couple of years — and you’ll see that coming — and then it will pick up again.


“It’s what you do when they’re 10 and under, 12- and under. Whether it’s softball or soccer, it doesn’t really matter. You’ve got to do it.”

Now when the Bulldogs step onto the field at St. Joe’s to face an unknown Sacopee Valley team with only a single common opponent faced this season, they do so standing beside teammates that — in many cases — they’ve been playing alongside since they were in elementary school.

It’s brought familiarity, repetition and chemistry.

“I definitely think it helps,” said Ashley Emery, a senior catcher. “I think we’re really talented, but that part of it helps a lot. I love playing with this team.”

The mutual respect and adoration for the group is a constant throughout the lineup. It’s also something the coach relies on at this time of season. He knows his players don’t want the ride to end in Madison — they want it to end in Standish.

“The message is that you’ve got to win these games or there’s no tomorrow,” LeBlanc said. “They know that the end is near and they control it.”

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.