Madison’s Jessica Turcotte tries to break up the double play as Winthrop’s Kate Perkins (21) forces the out Wednesday in Madison. Morning Sentinel photo by Michael G. Seamans

MADISON — One explosive inning of offense was all the Madison Area Memorial High School softball team got Wednesday afternoon against Winthrop, but one inning was all the Bulldogs needed.

Madison jumped on the Ramblers for four runs in the bottom of the third inning, then held off Winthrop’s seventh-inning rally to take a 4-3 Mountain Valley Conference win. The defending Class C state champion, Madison improved to 5-0. Winthrop is now 2-1.

“I’d rather play games like this every game. You’re playing for those four or five games at the end, when you’re in the playoffs,” Madison coach Chris LeBlanc said.

Madison’s Lauria LeBlanc delivers a pitch against Winthrop on Wednesday in Madison. Morning Sentinel photo by Michael G. Seamans

Down 4-1 entering the seventh inning, Winthrop pulled within a run with Layne Audet’s two-run home run to right center field. With two outs, Olivia Simonson walked to put the tying run on base, but Madison ace Lauria LeBlanc got a strikeout to end the game.

Winthrop coach Chuck Gurney said it took his team a few innings to overcome the mystique of playing the defending state champion.

“You could see the confidence. Madison has been that measuring stick, and I could see it in pregame warmups. Our kids were tight mentally. As the game progressed, they came alive and played more like themselves,” Gurney said.

Madison scored all four runs in the bottom of the third. Landyn Landry led off with a triple off Winthrop starter Audet, and scored on Levesque’s double. Levesque scored on an error to give the Bulldogs a 2-0 lead. With one out, Brooke McKenney’s two-run double gave Madison a 4-0 lead.

“It just takes timing, I guess. That’s how I learned to do it,” Levesque, who added a second double in the sixth inning, said.

“Obviously, (Audet’s) one of the best in the MVC. She’s got a good fastball and a good changeup. We just had to time up,” coach LeBlanc said. “We told them to be aggressive. Against a girl like that you’re not going to be able to take a pitch or two and then think you’re going to swing one time and hit the ball.”

Audet allowed five hits with eight strikeouts and two walks. Lauria LeBlanc was dominant for much of the game for Madison, allowing four hits and two walks with 12 strikeouts.

“She gets fired up. There’s a lot of pressure when you win a lot of games. She’s won a lot of games. Every game we play, not only does that team want to beat us but every team in the conference wants us to get beat. She’s a tough nut,” coach LeBlanc said.

Added Gurney: “Lauria, I think her and Layne are the two top pitchers in the entire conference. The pitching we saw Monday and Tuesday was a whole lot different than what we saw today. It took a while to adapt to the speed Lauria brings.”

Moriah Hyjduk put the Ramblers on the board with a solo home run to left field to lead off the fourth inning. Hyjduk added a single in the sixth. Bri Baxter doubled and scored on Audet’s home run.

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