Cicero-North Syracuse softball pitcher Sydney O'Hara, named the Gatorade New York State Player of the Year earlier this week, led the Northstars to its first state Class AA championship since 2006 Saturday in Queensbury, tossing back-to-back shutouts and hitting two home runs in the state final, a 5-0 victory over East Meadow.
Given that four-run cushion, O'Hara, named the Gatorade New York State Player of the Year earlier in the week, finished off her latest post-season gem as she struck out 12 Brockport batters.
This led to the game C-NS had waited four long and frustrating seasons to play. East Meadow, the Section VIII champions from Nassau County, Long Island, had rolled past Union-Endicott 8-0 in the other state semifinal, but against the Northstars it proved a different story.
O'Hara made sure of it. Having struck out the Jets in the top of the first, she came up to bat in the bottom of the first after Van Hoven and Lauren Floyd reached base against East Meadow pitcher Kerri Shapiro.
Having struck out three times at the plate against Brockport, O'Hara, swinging from the left side, timed Shapiro's fastball and sent it the opposite way, clearing the left-field fence. Just like that, C-NS had a 3-0 advantage, the big hit that had eluded them in those previous three state finals defeats.
Though the Jets did get runners on base in the second and third innings, O'Hara didn't flinch, instead continuing to amass the strikeouts - 11 through five innings - and keeping East Meadow off the board.
Meanwhile, the Northstars made it 4-0 in the bottom of the fifth, again through the seniors, as Van Hoven reached base and raced home on Silfer's single, her fifth RBI of the state final four.
An inning later, in the sixth, O'Hara - knowing that this was, likely, the last time she would step to the plate in a C-NS uniform - offered a theatrical send-off when she crushed her second home run of the game.
All that was left was to get three more outs, and O'Hara breezed past them, striking out Taylor Conti to clinch a state title a long time in the making.