Jun 16, 2008 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
For the remarkable group of seniors on the Cicero-North Syracuse softball team, the appropriate conclusion would be a state Class AA championship, to accompany the one they all achieved in 2006 — but a mighty force from Long Island disagreed.
West Babylon, with terrific pitching and timely hitting, put a halt to the Northstars’ title dreams in last Saturday’s state AA semifinal at the BAGSAI complex near Binghamton, handing CNS a 3-0 defeat on its way to the ultimate prize.
That it even got to Binghamton was largely a tribute to Jessica Phillips, one of the members from that 2006 team, who took charge of last Wednesday’s Class AA regional final against Shenendehowa at the Adirondack Sports Complex in Queensbury.
Despite the Plainswomen’s presence as the no. 1 team in the state AA rankings, Phillips and hear battery mate, Erica Gigliotti, teamed up to humble Shen in the course of a 3-1 victory.
Having never trailed at any time in its run to the Section III Class AA title, CNS had to deal with that small bit of adversity when, in the bottom of the second inning, Lexi Williams doubled and came around to score, giving the Plainswomen a 1-0 lead.
Phillips had thrown out Jen Mongiovi trying to steal second — which had allowed Williams to race home. Given that, Phillips was hoping for a chance at atonement — and got it quickly.
In the top of the third, CNS stayed patient against Shen pitcher Amanda Ferro, drawing two walks, along with an infield hit, to load the bases with one out.
Up stepped Phillips, who has the power to take any pitch out of the park. But she didn’t need that now, and with a solid swing, Phillips singled off Ferro, allowing the tying and-go-ahead runs to score.
CNS led, 2-1 — and Phillips wasn’t done. In her next at-bat in the top of the fifth, Phillips crushed a Ferro offering over the fence in right-center field, doubling the Northstars’ margin.
Gigliotti, who allowed seven hits, continued to throw strikes, confident that her defense would come through. Sure enough, CNS did not commit a single error, nabbing several hard-hit shots that, with other teams, might lead to hits and runs.
This placed the Northstars at BAGSAI against West Babylon, and one figured that, with all its experience in big-game settings, and all the tests it had gone through, CNS would be in an advantageous position.
However, West Babylon pitcher Chelsea Shea was ready. She got off to a solid start in the first inning, then got immense help when the Eagles’ hitters tagged Gigliotti for two runs in the top of the second — the most runs allowed in any inning Gigliotti had pitched in the playoffs so far.
It remained 2-0 into the bottom of the third, but CNS appeared ready to counter. It loaded the bases with nobody out, only to see Shea get out of it with two of her eight strikeouts, plus a groundout.
Though it finished with six hits, matching West Babylon’s total, CNS would not score, the first time in 32 games that took place. The Eagles tacked on a fifth-inning run for insurance, then would go on to beat Horseheads later in the day for the state AA title.
Now the Northstars, who finished at 21-8, will watch one of its most accomplished classes depart. Phillips, Brittney Lindley, Katie Carrick, Natalie Wright, Stephanie Mix, Stephanie Wickert and Meagan Robinson depart — with Nandin, Meola and Gigliotti all coming back (as is Brittany Paul, Lindsay Flanagan, Sara Obrist and Sydney Harbaugh to lead the charge in 2009.