Jun 07, 2010 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Even with its relative youth, the Cicero-North Syracuse softball team has quite a good collective memory – especially when it comes to encounters with Liverpool.
The Northstars remembered how the Warriors took the Section III Class AA championship from them a year ago. It also remembered how Liverpool came from behind to beat them 5-4 in nine innings a month ago.
So when the two rivals clashed again in the 2010 edition of the Class AA final at the Gillette Road complex Monday night, CNS utilized all that it had learned from those previous disappointments and beat Liverpool 6-1.
“This year was our time,” CNS pitcher Sarah Salamone said. “We’ve wanted this from the beginning of the season, and we knew that we could beat Liverpool.”
It had to be the Northstars’ time, just based on the calendar. It has won sectional titles each of the last four even-numbered years, dating back to 2004, with Liverpool prevailing in the odd-numbered years. Combined, they’ve won the last 10 sectional crowns.
Salamone’s solid pitching had a lot to do with this outcome. So did the defense around her, which was prominent from the first inning onward.
Liverpool got its only run in the top of the first when, with two out and two runners in scoring position, Beth Lamison, hero of the last encounter with CNS, singled to left.
Emily Dumas easily raced home – but Tiffany Sampere got thrown out by eighth-grade shortstop Amy Van Hooven trying to score as Sam Cirillo applied the tag.
CNS tied it in the bottom of the third. With two out, Van Hooven doubled, and after Brittany Paul walked, Jenn Huff singled up the middle to score Van Hooven.
It remained 1-1 in the fourth, despite Emily Dumas hitting a leadoff double. Dumas moved to third on a groundout, but on Lamison’s grounder Lindsay Flanagan (who missed the semifinals against Oswego due to illness) threw home – and Dumas was tagged out.
Having twice denied Liverpool from getting runs, CNS would wait until the bottom of the fifth to make its decisive move – and a little luck didn’t hurt.
With one out and Sydney Harbaugh on second with a double, Paul appeared to pop out to Dumas at third base – but Dumas stepped out of the field of play, so Paul got another chance.
“I figured that I’ve got to make something out of it,” Paul said.
Eventually, Paul worked the count full, fouled off a pair of pitches, then drew a walk. Jenn Huff singled to load the bases, and freshman Sydney O’Hara delivered a two-run single up the middle to put CNS ahead for good.
When Sam Cirillo drove home another run to make it 4-1 through five, every CNS player reminded each other that this was the exact same score from which Liverpool rallied to beat them on May 6.
And with two out in the top of the sixth, Dumas on first and Lamison looming on deck, Salamone got a called third strike on Sampere, eliminating Liverpool’s last good threat.
Lindsey Silfer promptly tripled to lead off the bottom of the sixth, sparking a two-run rally that gave Salamone plenty of cushion as she retired the Warriors in order in the seventh to clinch it.
“Sarah wasn’t sharp early,” head coach Kerry Bennett said. “But after that she started hitting her spots, and that’s the key.”
CNS would not get much time to celebrate. On Tuesday, it boarded a bus and headed east to Glens Falls to face Section II champion Colonie in the Class AA regional final, the winner to head to Waterloo for Saturday’s state final four.
Liverpool, meanwhile, closes out a 19-2-1 season and sees seven seniors – Sampere, Lamison, Dumas, Sarah Tram, Abby Romano, Stephanie VanDusen and Darci Muldoon – depart.