Big inning leads CNS to AA softball championship

Sam Cirillo started it with a single, ended it with a double, and in between her Cicero-North Syracuse softball teammates put together the offensive outburst that helped deliver a second consecutive Section III Class AA championship.

The undefeated, top-seeded Northstars improved to 22-0 as it beat no. 3 seed West Genesee 7-0 Saturday at Hopkins Road Park in Liverpool by getting all of its runs in the bottom of the fifth inning, which broke open a tense pitching duel between CNS's Sydney O'Hara and WG's Ashley Amidon.

"We needed to make something happen," said Cirillo. "We just started stringing hits together when we needed it most."

For four innings, CNS had been unable to do that against Amidon, partially due to WG's defense. The Wildcats turned a double play in the bottom of the second and got a diving catch from Lexie Myers on a foul ball in the bottom of the fourth.

"We were trying to hard early," said head coach Kerry Bennett, acknowledging the unique pressure of a sectional final. "I thought that if we were patient, it would come together."

At the same time, though, O'Hara was calmly setting down the Wildcats. The only big stress came in the top of the second, when WG put runners on second and third with one out, but saw O'Hara strike out Katie Regin and Ashley D'Avirro to end the threat.

So it was still 0-0 when Cirillo took her second turn at the plate to open the fifth. Wasting little time, she drilled a single, the team's first hit of the day, and after Chelsea Szabo ran for Cirillo, Morgan Phillips landed a double, putting runners on second and third.

Then the bottom of CNS's order went to work. Sarah Salamone lofted a fly ball to the gap that just slipped out of a diving Myers' glove, allowing Szabo and Phillips to score. Moments later, Kelly Corbin chimed in with a double off the wall, scoring Salamone to make it 3-0, and no. 9 hitter Lindsey Silfer reached base, too, when Amidon plunked her.

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