STANDISH — Katie Worthen didn’t know where her hit went. Jersey Tewksbury, however, saw it all the way.

Worthen’s comebacker to the circle with the bases loaded in the ninth inning brought in Tewksbury and lifted the top-seeded Madison softball team to a 4-3 victory over No. 3 Sacopee Valley in the Class C South championship game at St. Joseph’s College.

It’s another signature win for the Bulldogs (18-1), who won last year’s state championship and will be in Brewer for the title game for the fourth straight season. Sacopee Valley, which lost last year’s regional final to Madison, dropped to 14-5.

Madison’s Katie Worthen, right, receives a hug from a teammate after the Bulldogs walked off Sacopee in the bottom of the ninth inning of the Class C South title game Wednesday at St. Joseph’s College in Standish. Kennebec Journal photo by Andy Molloy

This one was a challenge. Sacopee Valley led 2-0 after the top of the first and never trailed through the first eight innings. But an Emily Edgerly home run brought Madison even early, an excellent combined pitching effort from Lauria LeBlanc and Brooke McKenney shut the Hawks down, and Worthen made sure the Bulldogs cashed in on their biggest offensive chance.

“It was a huge win for us,” Worthen said. “I’m super proud of our team and everything that we did. We didn’t get down on ourselves when they scored two runs in the first inning. We kept our heads up.”

The winning rally started when Tewksbury, the No. 9 hitter, dropped a single to right to lead off the ninth, and picked up when Landyn Landry reached on a two-base error on her grounder to short. The Hawks walked Lillian Levesque intentionally to load the bases, and the strategy started to work when Elyse Guptil notched her sixth strikeout to bring up Worthen.

“I was really nervous. I didn’t really have great hits the whole game,” Worthen said. “I was just hoping to get a base hit. That’s all I needed.”

With the count 2-1, Worthen smacked a hard grounder back to the circle that deflected off Guptil, who looked for the ball while it rolled to the third-base line. Tewksbury, meanwhile, never hesitated, and slid in comfortably ahead of the eventual throw in to win the game.

While her team celebrated, Worthen wondered what happened.

“I had no idea where I hit it,” she said. “I just heard it get hit and I ran and hoped for the best.”

It was a tough ending for the Hawks, who started hot in their pursuit of redemption but couldn’t escape a final jam.

“When it comes to this level, I keep telling my girls, it’s about who makes the most plays,” Sacopee coach Brian Fink said. “We made a lot of plays, probably our cleanest game of the year, but they made a play more than us.”

Sacopee took a quick 2-0 lead in the first when Riley Vacchiano singled and scored on an error and Gabby Jamerson-Martin came in on Lakyn Hink’s single. Madison stranded a pair of runners in both the first and second but then struck in the third, with McKenney hitting a single and Edgerly driving a two-out pitch over the left field wall to tie the game at 2.

“I just go up to the plate and think ‘I’ve got to put a ball in play,’ ” Edgerly said. “I didn’t even know that it was a home run. I was sprinting the bases because I thought it was going to be a triple. … It definitely brings energy to the team, encourages them and lets them know it’s not over yet.”

Sacopee jumped back in front when Jamerson-Martin reached second on an infield single and error and eventually scored on Hink’s groundout in the fifth. LeBlanc struck out nine through five innings but coach Chris LeBlanc went with a change, bringing in McKenney, a freshman, to hold the Hawks down.

The move worked. McKenney was terrific, allowing one hit in her four innings of work while striking out seven.

“I expected to go in at some point, so it wasn’t too surprising,” she said. “I try to tell myself that I can do it, and try to make sure the nerves don’t get to me.”

“(Brooke’s) proven it to us over the year,” coach LeBlanc said. “She’s got great command … she works at it year-round, and she came through.”

Madison’s Landyn Landry tags Sacopee Valley’s Lakyn Hink at second during the Class C South final Wednesday at St. Joseph’s College in Standish. Kennebec Journal photo by Andy Molloy

McKenney just needed another run, and she got it courtesy of her partner in the circle. In the sixth, LeBlanc hit her second double of the game, then scored on a wild pitch with two outs to tie the game at 3.

It took a while to get the next run. But in the end, it was worth the wait.

“It’s exciting. We haven’t been real successful up in Brewer, so that’s the next challenge,” coach LeBlanc said. “We’ve been able to win it here in ’14, ’16 and ’18, but ’13, ’15 and ’17, we’ve lost in Brewer. Brewer’s kind of our nemesis. … We’re going to try to right that on Saturday.”

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