Northstars win regional, advance to state final four

Perhaps the best thing for the Cicero-North Syracuse softball team was that it didn't get any time to think about the next obstacle.

Not even 24 hours after dethroning Liverpool for the Section III Class AA championship, the Northstars took a long bus ride east to the Adirondack Sports Complex in Queensbury - then won again, topping Section II champion Colonie 1-0 in the Class AA regional final.

To some degree, CNS benefited from a turmoil-filled Section II playoffs where Colonie rose from the no. 9 seed to earn a surprising sectional title despite a modest 16-8 record.

Still, the Garnet Raiders did not to make the long road trip as CNS did, and it had a quality pitcher in Casey Rowland to counter Sarah Salamone as the two sides got underway.

For four innings, neither side could get a run. Rowland was on her way to 13 strikeouts, while Salamone earned five strikeouts. Each side would get just three hits in a game that barely took an hour to play.

In such a game, typical of softball at this high level, a mistake turns fortunes more than a big play. And that's exactly what happened in the fifth inning as Rowland faced the bottom of the CNS order.

Lindsey Silfer started the rally with a well-place single to short right field. Chelsea Szabo followed with a grounder back to Rowland, who had a simple throw to first to end the inning - but threw it wide.

Silfer alertly raced to third base. But she didn't stay there long, as leadoff hitter Sydney Harbaugh drilled a single to left that brought home the game's only run.

Salamone did not allow a hit after stranding two Colonie runners in the top of the second, meaning that she's surrendered just five total hits in the last 14 innings, counting the Liverpool win.

Now the Northstars can prepare for Saturday's state final four at Waterloo High School's four-diamond complex. At 11 a.m., CNS faces Valley Central or North Rockland, with the winner advancing to the final at 3:30 against Bay Shore or Clarence.

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