The Cicero-North Syracuse softball team broke Liverpool's three-year hold on the Section III Class AA championship, the Northstars rallying from a two-run deficit to beat the Warriors 5-3 in the sectional final at Onondaga Community College.
Smiles were a little wider, hugs a bit longer and tears more copious for the Cicero-North Syracuse softball team in the wake of Wednesday’s 5-3, come-from-behind victory over Liverpool in the Section III Class AA final at Onondaga Community College.
This wasn’t just the latest title for a long-powerful program. It was restoration in the wake of the Warriors winning the last three sectional titles at the Northstars’ expense, and redemption for surrendering six-run leads in two different regular-season meetings between the longtime rivals.
Head coach Mary Beebe, involved with so many championship teams at C-NS, said this one was sweeter than the others because of the way her players bonded like a family and overcame all kinds of obstacles.
Of course, the biggest obstacle was Liverpool, and it only figured that, to win this championship, it had to make the exact kind of unexpected rally it had fallen victim to twice earlier in the spring.
It came in the top of the sixth inning. The Warriors led, 3-1, having scored all of its runs in the bottom of the first inning just after an 80-minute weather delay followed C-NS pushing across a run in the top of the first.
Yet Liverpool had squandered numerous opportunities to add to that lead, thwarted by left-hander Lindsey Richards, who had relieved starter Ariana Corasaniti in the bottom of the third.
C-NS had also stranded several runners against Warriors ace Jenna Wike, but knew that it could turn it around – and it did in the sixth, with more than a little help from the opposition.
With one out, Julianna Vassallo drew a walk. Sam Shallcross followed with a single. Ally Ciafratta’s grounder led to a force play at third, meaning there were two out when Arianna Corasaniti came to the plate.
Corasaniti hit a fly ball. The sky, once dark and gray during the weather delay, now featured a high sun, and the ball got dropped, allowing Shallcross to score and Ciafratta to go to third.
Jordyn Maldonado was the next batter, and her fly ball glanced off a glove in left field and went to the wall. Ciafratta and Corasaniti raced home, and C-NS suddenly had a 4-3 lead.
Ciafratta was again a central figure in the bottom of the sixth. Olivia Hayden had reached base on a one-out bunt single, and Delanie Alberici tried to do the same as Hayden took off for second – but Ciafratta made a running catch and fired to first to complete the double play.
Liverpool’s defense again proved a culprit in the top of the seventh, with a throwing error that followed Janelle Walters’s leadoff single leading to Gabriella Corasaniti bringing home Walters on a groundout.
Fittingly, Ciafratta caught the final out to snuff out the Warriors’ last threat in the bottom of the seventh.
“This is amazing,” she said. “Everyone on this team contributed to this win in every way.”
With little time to savor the title, C-NS made the short trip to Carrier Park Field of Dreams in East Syracuse for the Class AA regional final against Section II champion Shaker, where the season ended with an 8-1 defeat to the Blue Bison.
The Northstars could not recover from a first inning where Shaker scored four runs, starting with Alissa Folts’ triple and continuing through run-scoring hits from Bella Spadinger, Kesley Wells, Shannon Bloodgood and Lexi Ratigan, the last of them off Richards after she replaced Ariana Corasaniti.
Meanwhile, C-NS could not get anything off Blue Bison pitcher Allie Lajeunesse until the bottom of the fourth. By that point, Shaker was up 6-0, having scored twice in the top of the fourth, and even that rally got thwarted when a runner left too soon on Ciafratta’s potential RBI double.
Lajeunesse blanked the Northstars the rest of the way, getting further help from a pair of Shaker runs in the sixth inning. C-NS closed with a 16-9 record, but that included a 10-game win streak that culminated with the ultimate payback on Liverpool.