Jun 10, 2012 Rob Jonas Uncategorized
The Cicero-North Syracuse Northstars found itself in an all-too-familiar position following Saturday’s state Class AA softball title game: wearing the runner-up medals.
Section VI champion Clarence scored two runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to pull out a 3-1 victory over C-NS at the Morse Sports Complex.
It’s the third straight loss in the state finals for the Northstars and the first state title for the Red Devils.
“It sucks coming in second three years in a row,” said C-NS coach Kerry Bennett. “You’ve got to play well at the right time, and we didn’t.”
The Northstars were down a bat when Brittany Paul left Glens Falls following Saturday morning’s 2-1 semifinal victory over Valley Central (Section IX), but it didn’t look like they would miss a beat as they put two of their first three hitters on base against Clarence. Sydney Harbaugh led off the top of the first with a single, and Sydney O’Hara followed with a one-out double.
Lindsey Silfer drove in Harbaugh with a long fly out to left field for the game’s first run, but Clarence pitcher Katie Bull got Morgan Phillips to line out to center field to end the top of the first with C-NS ahead 1-0.
O’Hara made the lead stand through three innings of hitless ball. Along the way, the junior pitcher struck out five Clarence batters.
The mood changed in the bottom of the fourth, though, when Clarence’s Tori Nappo belted a solo home run over the left field fence to tie the game at 1.
“It was a hanging ball, so it was a mistake,” said O’Hara. “That’s okay. It happens.”
C-NS had a chance to take the lead in the top of the sixth inning. O’Hara reached second base when her fly ball glanced off Jill Horvath’s glove in left field. Silfer’s sacrifice bunt moved O’Hara to third with one out, but Bull induced Phillips to hit a soft liner to second baseman Mo Rogers and got Jenna Tartaro to ground out to shortstop Katie Milone to end the threat.
Leaving runners on base was a theme for C-NS in the final. The Northstars stranded five runners, as opposed to the three runners Clarence left behind.
“You have to come through at the right time, and we didn’t,” said Bennett.
Clarence’s Alyssa Dewes led off the bottom of the sixth with a single and moved to second on Rogers’ sacrifice bunt. O’Hara struck out Nappo for the second out before Mo Harris’ shallow fly ball to left field eluded the glove of a diving Cassie Franklin. Dewes scored from second base to put the Red Devils ahead 2-1.
“What more can I ask for?” said O’Hara. “She (Franklin) gave 100 percent going after that ball. That’s all I could ask for.”
The rally wasn’t over yet. Harris moved to second on a wild pitch and scored on Horvath’s single to give Clarence a 3-1 lead.
That was more than enough for Bull. The Canisius-bound senior got the final three outs in the top of the seventh inning to seal the Red Devils’ victory.
O’Hara allowed only four hits and struck out 11 for C-NS, which is still holding on the four state titles it has won during Bennett’s 30-year coaching career.
The Northstars struggled in Saturday morning’s state semifinal game against Valley Central before pulling out the 2-1 victory on Silfer’s two-out RBI single in the top of the seventh inning. They had hits in all seven innings, but they only converted on two of their five scoring opportunities in the game.