C-NS, Liverpool softball handle playoff openers

Warriors pull away from Auburn; Northstars blank F-M

Though certainly eyeing each other for a possible Section III Class AA championship showdown, the Cicero-North Syracuse and Liverpool softball teams did not forget about the immediate task of getting through the early rounds.

Both the no. 2 seed Northstars and top-seeded Warriors comfortably prevailed in Saturday’s AA quarterfinals, as C-NS shut out no. 7 seed Fayetteville-Manlius 10-0 and Liverpool, after a shaky start, got away from no. 8 seed Auburn 10-4.

Liverpool had risen all the way to no. 3 in the state AA rankings, with C-NS stuck back at no. 20, but that didn’t seem to impress Auburn too much as the Maroons earned two runs off Warrior starter Dana Nicoletti in the top of the first inning thanks to run-scoring hits from Taylor Stearns and Katie Hansen.

By the end of that inning, though, it was 2-2, Liverpool using its speed at the top of the order to produce a pair of tying runs. Then two more runs followed in the second, and though Auburn cut the lead to 4-3, the Warriors broke it open in the bottom of the third when, with the bases loaded, McKenzie Harris cleared them with a three-run triple.

Three more runs followed in the late innings as each Liverpool starter got at least one hit and the team produced 15 hits overall. Dominique LaRose went three-for-four, earning an RBI, while Katie Yudin and Alicia Hansen each scored twice. Nicoletti, Jenna Wike and Ericka Sadowski had two hits apiece.

After her early struggles, Nicoletti, with seventh-inning relief help from Peyton Bellrose, contained the Maroons the rest of the way, setting up Wednesday’s AA semifinal at the Gillette Road complex against no. 4 seed Central Square, who blanked Baldwinsville 2-0 to get this far.

C-NS is in the semifinals, too, ready to take on West Genesee (who shut out Rome Free Academy 5-0 last Thursday) after patiently putting away F-M, a team it had beaten twice during the regular season.

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