STANDISH — Lauria LeBlanc was five pitches into her first start in a state championship softball game Saturday afternoon, and already she’d put two outs in the books and allowed nothing more than a well-placed bunt for a harmless base hit.

When the next three Narraguagus batters all reached via errors behind her, leading to three unearned runs in the first half inning at Bailey Field, the Madison sophomore found another gear. LeBlanc allowed only one baserunner the rest of the way, anchoring Madison’s 7-3 win and the program’s third Class C title in the last five years.

With just two hits, no walks and 14 strikeouts, the southpaw saved the best pitching performance of her career for the biggest moment to date.

“It feels amazing. I can’t even put it into words,” LeBlanc said after posing for photos with the trophy and her teammates in the outfield grass. “I honestly don’t really know what was different. I just felt good, and everybody else felt good, and that made me have a lot of positivity.”

LeBlanc seemed to have more pop on her fastball than she’d had in the Class C South regional final against Sacopee Valley earlier in the week, but that wasn’t where she was able to exploit Narraguagus. Instead, she routinely opened with the fastball before encouraging the free-swinging Knights to chase off-speed pitches out of the strike zone deep in the count.

“It was her changeup,” Madison head coach Chris LeBlanc said. “Ashley (Emery) called a great game. I don’t call any of the pitches, Ashley calls them. Lauria has a natural drop or curve, just from being from the left side. Her changeup, she threw it and Ashley called it at the perfect times.”

“It was definitely her outside pitch, like usual,” Emery, a senior catcher said, of LeBlanc’s effectiveness. “I didn’t have her throw the changeup much in the beginning, but when she did later in the game it was right on. If I see that they’re swinging (at high pitches), I usually go up high. I just keep going there.”

It worked, and it was the perfect recipe after the veteran Bulldogs found themselves trailing so early in the season’s final game.

Chris LeBlanc said that Lauria has “a little bit of attitude in here,” something she called upon when the defense ran into problems in the first inning. From the outside, at least, it appeared as though Lauria LeBlanc — who was handed the starting job after Madeline Wood graduated last spring — had every intention of finishing off Narraguagus herself.

Nobody was more impressed — or more proud — than her older sister, senior center fielder Sydney LeBlanc.

“We knew it was our last year together, and she wanted to do this for me and for us,” Sydney said. “It’s just surreal that we got to win a state championship together. It’s crazy.”

Lauria LeBlanc’s clutch performance was just what the Bulldogs needed to put the wraps on a perfect 20-0 season, Chris LeBlanc’s 100th coaching win and the 80th victory for the seven seniors on the roster.

“It’s amazing. I don’t even know what to say,” Emery said. “I knew we could hit like we did in the regional game. I had a lot of confidence in my team.”

And plenty in Lauria LeBlanc, in particular.

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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