Cicero From the moment the 2012 state Class AA championship game ended in bitter defeat, the Cicero-North Syracuse softball team has devoted itself to getting back to that point and winning it all this time around.
Of course, the off-season did not just inlclude working toward 2013. It also included a late-summer furor that surrounded the sudden firing of coaching great Kerry Bennett, which only added more fuel to C-NS's fire for the upcoming spring.
Mary Beebe was the choice to take over as head coach. She had served as an assistant to Bennett from 1996 to 2008. Between that and her club coaching for 15 years with the TC Tremors, she has proven a good fit for the Northstars.
Just as important was the talent and leadership coming back to the team this season. Sydney O'Hara, Amy Van Hoven, Kelly Corbin, Lindsay Silfer, Brooke Szabo and Morgan Phillips all return, bringing a blend of power, defense and speed that is difficult to stop.
O'Hara, the pitching ace and top hitting threat headed for Syracuse University next year, wasted little time establishing herself to the opposition. In Monday's opener against Fayetteville-Manlius, she was nearly perfect in the course of a 14-0 shutout of the Hornets.
Having struck out 32 in 11 innings of scrimmages at the Carrier Dome in late March, O'Hara proceeded to get 18 K's on this day, five times striking out the side on her way to a no-hitter.
It nearly was better. Sam Guillaume was F-M's lone baserunner, drawing a walk on a 3-2 pitch in the top of the fifth. That, plus Corbin's snare of a hard grounder from Tricia Miller in the fourth, were the only real scares O'Hara faced.
Offensively, C-NS struck for two runs in the first and took charge with five runs in the bottom of the third, all with two outs. Freshman Beth Bonin and Szabo, the no. 8 and 9 hitters, respectively, both had two-run singles.