It didn't prove easy for the Cicero-North Syracuse softball team as it began the post-season defense of its Section III Class AA title.
As the top seed, the Northstars drew no. 8 seed Fayetteville-Manlius in the opening round and struggled against ace pitcher Amy Bright before a late rally gave CNS a 3-1 victory over the Hornets.
F-M (who beat Utica Proctor in the opening round) did not flinch when the Northstars scored in the bottom of the first inning to take a 1-0 lead.
Instead, Bright blanked CNS over the next four frames, and her Hornet teammates tied it 1-1 in the top of the fourth.
Sarah Salamone replaced Erica Gigliotti on the mound and would keep F-M off the board the rest of the way. That got rewarded when, in the bottom of the sixth, Lucia Meola drove home the go-ahead run, and CNS tacked on an insurance run, too.
The Northstars entered the playoffs in a foul mood after its May 22 visit to Liverpool, which turned into a 14-2 loss to the Warriors.
Of course, CNS and Liverpool could meet once more in this Saturday's AA title game at Gillette -- if they win their respective semifinals Wednesday at Hopkins Road Park. The Northstars get no. 5 seed Oswego, while the Warriors meet Baldwinsville.