Undefeated and atop the state Class AA rankings entering the final week of the regular season, the Cicero-North Syracuse softball team still had a series of high-quality opponents to deal with before the playoffs hit - and beat them all.
Oswego came to Gillette Field last Tuesday night and had the Northstars in some trouble before a late burst of offense produced a 6-3 win over the Buccaneers.
Immediately, Oswego got to pitcher Sarah Salamone for two runs in the first inning. CNS trailed, despite a run in the third inning, until the fifth, when it scored twice off Bucs ace Emily Kolenda to seize a 3-2 edge.
Unfazed, Oswego quickly tied it up in the sixth, 3-3, but the Northstars would have the last push, getting to Kolenda for three decisive runs in the bottom of the sixth before Salamone, who had five strikeouts, pitched a scoreless seventh.
Sydney O'Hara did not get a trip in four tries, but Brittany Paul made up for it with four hits as she earned an RBI, as did Sydney Harbaugh, Amy Van Hoven and Morgan Phillips. Harbaugh scored three of her team's runs as Lindsey Silfer and Anna Melfi also crossed the plate.
After the Northstars blanked Corcoran 19-0 on Thursday, it pulled off another shutout on Friday, this time dusting off Class A contender Jamesville-DeWitt 7-0.
Salamone pitched in the latter of the two games, improving to 10-0 on the season as she held the Red Rams to two hits - or one less than Brittany Paul earned all by herself. Phillips drove in two runs as Salamone, Kelly Corbin, Sam Cirillo and Jenna Tartaro earned one RBI apiece.
This led to Saturday's regular-season finale, against a possible challenger in West Genesee. And one big rally made the difference as the Northstars topped the Wildcats 6-2 to make it 19 wins in a row.