Jun 07, 2007 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Knocking off the state’s top-ranked team to win a Section III Class AA championship was nice. Do that again, and the Liverpool softball team would be in the state final four.
And the Warriors came awfully close to pulling it off.
In last Wednesday’s Class AA regional final at the Gillette Road complex, Liverpool made two different comebacks against Section II power Shenendehowa, only to fall in eight innings to the Plainsmen, 3-2.
This was the exact same score by which Liverpool had stunned defending state champion Cicero-North Syracuse in the sectional finals on June 2. It was also the team’s fourth straight one-run game in the post-season.
Toughened by all the close calls it had survived to get this far, Liverpool waited out a 24-hour, rain-induced postponement of the regional game, pondering the fact that it was going up against a Shen team steeled from winning five consecutive sectional titles.
Amanda Clark was back on the mound at the start, but got into trouble in the bottom of the second inning, when the Plainswomen loaded the bases with one out. All Clark allowed was a sacrifice fly, as Liverpool escaped the inning with a modest 1-0 deficit.
Still, that was enough evidence to convince the Warrior coaches that it couldn’t wait for things to get worse. Erin Squairs, the sophomore left-hander and pitching hero of the CNS victory, entered in the third inning and smoothly mowed down the Shen batters over the next three frames.
Meanwhile, Plainswomen pitcher Angie Sagnelli was showing Liverpool hitters why she is going to Syracuse University this fall. The senior lefty cruised through her first four innings of work and maintained her team’s 1-0 advantage.
But in the top of the fifth, Liverpool got to Sagnelli. Anna Panzetta reached base on an error, and Sharon Dennis followed with an infield hit. They moved to second and third base on a groundout.
With two out, Nicole Lamison hit a single up the middle. Panzetta scored the tying run, but a perfect throw from Amanda Ferro in center field caused Dennis to be tagged out before she could add the go-ahead run.
Again, Shen went in front, 2-1, in the bottom of the fifth. Again, Liverpool rallied, as Kristin Andrzejewski coaxed a leadoff walk, moved to third base on a pair of grounders, and raced home when Kayla Howard doubled.
As if the Warriors needed more momentum, Squairs provided it by escaping a bases-loaded, nobody-out jam in the bottom of the sixth, through two force plays at home and a popout.
Liverpool looked to start a winning rally, but Sagnelli retired six in a row in the seventh and eighth innings and it remained 2-2 going into the bottom of the eighth.
Kayla Hines led off for Shen and singled, her third hit of the game. After going to second on a sacrifice bunt, Hines watched as Squairs struck out Ferro, bringing Ashley D’Agostino to the plate.
On the first pitch she saw, D’Agostino hit the ball into a perfect spot, just inside the line, between first base and right field. Hines raced home with the winning run.
And so ended the Warriors’ season, where it went 21-6. All the hard work, done at home and in the team’s spring-break trip to South Carolina, paid off in the ability it showed during the playoffs to hang around (and sometimes beat) any opponent, regardless of reputation.
Now, seven seniors depart, including Clark, Andrzejewski, Lamison, Panzetta, Sarah Choroser, Lindsey Nelson and Tiffany Sampere. Squairs, Dennis, Alex Czachowski and Krystal Fitzgerald are the key players expected to be back in 2008.