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Liverpool softball falls in AA regional

Liverpool's softball team was not going to alter its game plan -- especially since it had led to 24 wins and the team's third Section III Class AA title in five years.

So it wasn't any surprise that, down a run to Columbia with two out in the bottom of the seventh inning of Tuesday's Class AA regional final at the Gillette Road Complex, Tiffany Sampere inched off first base with every intent to run herself into scoring position.

Sampere never got the chance, though, as Blue Devils catcher Shannon Dougherty picked her off, bringing the season to an abrupt conclusion as the Warriors tasted a bitter 3-2 defeat.

Beaten in this same regional round in 2007, Liverpool did not want a repeat as it returned to Gillette three days after its epic 10-inning win over rival Cicero-North Syracuse in the Section III Class AA final.

Columbia, the Section II champions, showed no sympathy, getting to Sampere for two runs in the top of the second inning, both of them coming home on Meg Hallenbeck's double.

Quickly answering, Liverpool used its aggressive work on the base paths to tie the game in the bottom of the second. With one out, Erin Squairs and Beth Lamison singled, and both moved into scoring position on a groundout.

When Blue Devils pitcher Jena Servidoe threw a wild pitch moments later, Squairs raced home for the first run, and when the throw to the plate got away from Dougherty, Lamison scored, too, and it was 2-2.

In the top of the third, Columbia loaded the bases for slugger Meg Bailey, who ripped a shot to the outfield wall. It got caught, but Sam Chevalier scored the go-ahead run.

From that point forward, Sampere and Squairs combined to shut the door on the Blue Devils, giving Liverpool all kinds of time -- and chances -- to catch up again. But Dougherty would not let it happen.

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