STANDISH — There was no comeback needed this time.

This time, the Hall-Dale softball team, Class C South’s best from start to finish in the regular season, was also the best from beginning to end in the region’s deciding game.

Ashlynn Donahue pitched a gem in the circle, Rita Benoit had three hits and scored two runs, and top-seeded and undefeated Hall-Dale topped Madison 3-0 to win the Class C South championship at St. Joseph’s College’s Richard W. Bailey Field.

“I’m really happy for them,” Hall-Dale coach Steve Acedo said. “It’s just awesome to watch them be this excited about a softball game. I couldn’t ask for anything else, it’s an awesome group of kids.”

Hall-Dale (16-0) ended the regional reign for Madison (18-2), which had won four straight C South titles and three of the last four state crowns.

“The better team won,” Madison coach Chris LeBlanc said. “They got the hits, we didn’t make the plays, and you’ve got to make the plays in a championship game and you’ve got to hit the cutoffs, you’ve got to catch the ball in the outfield. Kudos to them, they work hard and they certainly deserved it today.”

It was a rematch of May 10’s game, which saw Hall-Dale stage a three-run, seventh-inning rally to steal a 4-3 victory. Acedo said that victory set the stage for Thursday’s.

“I think that just catapulted us through the rest of the season,” Acedo said. “It gave them the confidence that, well, we beat them for now, we can hang with anybody through the rest of the season. And they were confident coming into tonight that if they played their game, they were going to get the win.”

An assistant coach for Hall-Dale performs a dirt angel in celebration of Hall-Dale’s win over Madison in the Class C South championship game Thursday at Saint Joseph’s College in Standish. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

A freshman led the way for the Bulldogs. Donahue was terrific, allowing only three hits while striking out 11 and allowing only one runner to reach second until the seventh. She walked none, even after starting the first batter with a 3-0 count.

“After that first inning, all my nerves were out and I just got in my groove,” she said. “I needed to take a step back and just take a deep breath. I knew I could do it. Every inning definitely built my confidence up.”

She was going against one of the state’s top pitchers in Brooke McKenney (seven hits, nine strikeouts), but she got some support right away. In the first, Benoit hit a two-out single, and Tanley Tibbetts (two hits, RBI) brought her in when her fly ball to center passed through shadows and sun and was misplayed for a double.

In the fourth, Hall-Dale, sparked again by Benoit, widened the gap. The sophomore right fielder tagged a double to deep left field, then scored when Tibbetts singled to center and the throw home got past the catcher. Tibbetts advanced on a wild pitch, then scored on Lily Platt’s grounder to second.

Benoit added a single in the fifth for her third hit.

Madison’s Lillian Levesque (24) dives safely back to second base before getting doubled up by Hall-Dale shortstop Sarah Benner in the Class C South championship game Thursday at Saint Joseph’s College in Standish. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

“I feel like it was just the preparation going into the game,” she said. “I’ve been focusing a lot on tee work, and just hitting every single spot off the tee. … We did fast pitching off the machine, preparing for (McKenney), and then it was just mentally going up there, knowing you’re going to hit it.”

The defending champions didn’t give up their crown without a fight. In the seventh, Lillian Levesque rapped a single up the middle, and McKenney made it first and second when she reached on an infield single.

That brought senior Jerzey Tewksbury to the plate as the tying run, and she connected on a hard line drive that went straight to Donahue’s glove for the first out. Unfazed, Donahue fanned the next two batters, sending the Bulldogs wearing red and black to Saturday’s final.

“We don’t lose very often, and we always talk about how you have to play every inning, you have to win every inning,” LeBlanc said. “That was the message. ‘Let’s try to win this inning.’

“We’ll regroup. … Hopefully we get everybody to buy in this summer and do what we need to do, now that we’re back in the swing of things.”

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