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Liverpool softball shocks CNS for AA title

Here, as far as the Liverpool softball team was concerned, was the dream scenario.

The Warriors, out to reclaim the Section III Class AA championship, could do so in the most satisfying way possible -- at the expense of the defending state champions that just happened to be its biggest rival, on that rival's home turf.

Thanks to a couple of big-time gambles, that dream came true, as Liverpool stunned Cicero-North Syracuse 3-2 to earn the AA title on a steamy Saturday afternoon at the Gillette Road complex.

At that same facility 19 days earlier, CNS had beaten the Warriors 9-3, pounding Liverpool's no. 1 pitcher, Amanda Clark, for five first-inning runs and never looking back.

Remembering that, head coach Nick Spataro decided that Clark, who had bounced back to pitch extremely well in two AA playoffs wins over West Genesee and Oswego, would sit out the final, in favor of sophomore left-hander Erin Squairs.

Though she had plenty of mound experience (59 innings in 2007), Squairs had never pitched in a game so important, against a lineup as imposing as the one CNS possesses. Yet Spataro gambled that the element of surprise might help his team -- and throw the Northtstars off its course a bit.

Sure enough, in the bottom of the first inning, Liverpool ran into possible trouble when Brittney Lindley singled and Squairs hit the dangerous Jessica Phillips with a pitch.

But once Squairs got out of that jam with a popout and flyout, she seemed to relax, and breezed through the next three innings without much trouble.

Meanwhile, the Warriors got to CNS lefty Erica Gigliotti in the top of the fourth. Sarah Choroser hit a one-out double and reached third base on a passed ball.

After Kayla Howard walked, Anna Panzetta singled to score Choroser, and Sharon Dennis followed with a double to the wall, scoring Howard and Panzetta and making it 3-0.

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