May 29, 2014 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
In order to arrive at their latest head-to-head clash for the Section III Class AA championship, the Cicero-North Syracuse and Liverpool softball teams got there in vastly different manners.
The no. 2 seed Northstars had to lean on a tremendous pitching performance from Megan Tully to slip past no. 6 seed West Genesee 1-0 in Wednesday night’s AA semifinal at the Gillette Road complex.
As that was going on, the top-seeded Warriors scored at least one run in every inning and, led by Peyton Bellrose, pulled away from no. 4 seed Central Square in a 9-0 romp.
Going in, C-NS knew this semifinal would not be an easy one, for it had lost to West Genesee by that same 1-0 margin in an eight-inning thriller back on April 17, with Wildcats ace Morgan Nichols overcoming 11 Northstars hits to maintain the shutout.
C-NS had won the rematch 9-0 on May 8, but it was quickly apparent that, the third time around, Nichols would prove just as tough as she was in April, keeping the Northstars off the board in the first two innings to keep it 0-0.
Tully, meanwhile, gave up a single to Nichols in the top of the first, but from there proceeded to amass eight strikeouts in the first three innings.
In the bottom of the third, Jess Callisto walked, and an error helped get her to third base before Khaliyah Flournory’s grounder to the right side scored Callisto with the Northstars’ lone run.
Nichols would limit C-NS to three hits and, overcoming shoddy defense (WG made six errors), blanked the Northstars the rest of the way.
At the same time, though, Tully was holding the Wildcats without a hit the rest of the way. WG did put two runners on base in the fifth and sixth innings, but each time Tully worked out of it, closing out the game with her 12th strikeout to finish the complete-game effort.
Liverpool also got a seven-inning shutout from its pitcher, Dana Nicoletti, in its semifinal against Central Square, but also gave her far more run support, especially in the heart of the potent Warrior lineup.
Against a Red Hawks team it beat 8-1 on April 12 and 4-1 on May 21 (just a week before the semifinal encounter), the Warriors made Central Square pitcher Kelsey Morgan pay for her caution when, with two out in the bottom of the first, she walked hot-hitting Alicia Hansen.
Peyton Bellrose stepped up and, after Hansen stole second, drove her home with a double. Then, after a run in the second inning made it 2-0, Bellrose returned in the bottom of the third and crushed a Morgan delivery over the wall for a solo home run.
Two more runs followed in the fourth, plus a run in the fifth and three runs in the sixth, the Warriors finishing with 11 hits while Nicoletti, able to relax with a comfortable lead, held the Red Hawks to just two hits and four walks, striking out eight.
Nicoletti, Hansen and Jenna Wike each matched Bellrose with two hits at the plate, with Wike picking up a triple and earning two RBIs. Katie Yudin added a hit and run scored.
And this leads to Monday’s title-game showdown, also at Gillette, where Liverpool will look to end C-NS’s championship reign. Game time is at 5 p.m.
They split their two regular-season meetings, each side winning at home, the Northstars prevailing 10-5 on April 14, the Warriors answering with a 12-4 victory on May 5. The winner here goes to the AA regionals on June 6 at Ballston Spa against the Section II champions.