Jun 02, 2013 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Sydney O’Hara expects to spend a lot of time on the softball diamond at Syracuse University over the next four years.
But O’Hara got to play – and stand out – in an important game at the SU diamond while still wearing a Cicero-North Syracuse softball uniform during Saturday’s Section III Class AA final against Liverpool.
Using her pitching prowess and her potent bat, O’Hara led the Northstars past the Warriors 5-0 for a fourth consecutive sectional title. C-NS will face Section II champion Guilderland Tuesday in the Class AA regional final at the Gillette Road complex.
O’Hara gave up just three hits and finished with 13 strikeouts. And she also hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the third that broke the game open.
Liverpool was looking to avenge two regular-season defeats to C-NS, and sent freshman Peyton Bellrose to the pitcher’s circle to face the potent Northstars lineup.
Perhaps showing some initial nerves, O’Hara hit Liverpool’s leadoff hitter, Dominique LaRose, in the top of the first. LaRose stole second base to give the Warriors an early scoring chance, but O’Hara used a popout and a pair of strikeouts to erase that threat.
In the bottom of the first, Lauren Floyd beat out an infield hit. Bellrose showed some caution and walked O‘Hara, but Lindsey Silfer singled home Floyd to give C-NS a 1-0 lead. Allyse Burgos prevented further damage with a running catch near the fence on Khaliyah Flournory that kept two runs from scoring.
When O’Hara came back to the plate in the bottom of the third after Floyd’s second single, again Bellrose was careful at the start. But with the count three balls and one strike, O’Hara smashed Bellrose’s offering over the right-field fence for a two-run home run that extended the Northstars’ lead to 3-0.
“It was ball (four),” said O’Hara. “I just read it quickly, and turned on it.”
After that first delivery that plunked LaRose, O’Hara retired 10 in a row prior to Alicia Hansen’s fourth-inning single, and Hansen was promptly thrown out by catcher Lindsay Silfer trying to steal second.
Since she was facing the Warriors for a third time this spring, O’Hara said she had gained a knowledge of how to tackle Liverpool’s lineup – which hitters to be careful with, others to attack – and used it here, to good effect.
Back-to-back doubles from Flournory and Beth Bonin made it 4-0 and forced a pitching change, as Dana Nicoletti replaced Bellrose. Without a hit, Bonin made it home with a stolen base and wild pitch for the Northstars’ final run.
Liverpool’s best chance to break up the shutout came in the sixth, where singles from Burgos and Ericka Sadowski put runners on first and second with two out.
Hansen was up, and hit it hard – but flied out to deep center, and the Warriors went quietly in the seventh, O’Hara striking out the side to seal yet another Northstars sectional title.
But there was no big celebration, just some high-fives and smiles and a knowledge that C-NS, who lost in the state finals each of the last three years, wants a lot more.
“They were nervous and excited,” said head coach Mary Beebe. “But the big games are still ahead.”
O’Hara, for one, is confident in her team’s ability. “If we keep playing the way we’ve been playing, we’re pretty good,” she said.
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