Liverpool's softball team won its first Section III Class AA championship since 2009 Monday night at the Gillette Road Complex, beating four-time defending champion Cicero-North Syracuse 2-1 in nine innings as Alicia Hansen scored the winning run in the bottom of the ninth.
continued Now Hansen took off, and before Phillips could get the ball to Tully covering home plate, Hansen scored, and Liverpool had won a sectional title.
The game had exquisite tension from start to finish. Neither team got a hit until the top of the fourth, when Katie Scott singled, only to get thrown off first on a double play when a bunt attempt turned into a popout. Unfazed, Beth Bonin doubled, and Melfi singled her home to give C-NS a 1-0 lead.
It stayed that way until the bottom of the sixth. Nicoletti singled, moved to second on a wild pitch and went to third on Ericka Sadowski's single. Hansen popped out, and then Bellrose hit it to the wall in right-center field, but Lauren Floyd chased it down for a brilliant catch.
And then it got interesting.
The deep fly ball easily scored Nicoletti from third, but on appeal, it was found that Sadowski had left second base too soon, and she was called out. After a conference, the umpires ruled that the run counted, despite the Northstars' protests that said the out at second negated the run at home.
Staying cool amid the growing tension and hot temperatures, Nicoletti and Tully retired every batter they faced in the seventh and eighth innings. The difference was that Nicoletti did so again in the ninth, and Tully could not quite match her.
Liverpool heads to Malta Recreation Center in Ballston Spa, near Albany, on Friday at 5 p.m. for the Class AA regional final against Section II champion Bethlehem. The winner of that game advances to the state final four on June 14 at Moreau Recreation Center in Glens Falls.