Just five outs separated the Cicero-North Syracuse softball team from a return trip to the state final four before those championship dreams got turned back.
In Thursday’s Class AA regional final at at Luther Forest Fields in Malta (Saratoga County), the Northstars held Section II champion Ballston Spa in check until a sixth-inning outburst by the Scotties led to a 6-1 defeat.
With the experience of last year’s regional defeat still fresh, C-NS brought plenty of hunger into this game, and for most of the afternoon it contained a potent Ballston Spa lineup.
In the second inning, the Northstars threw out a Scotties runner trying to score, the only real threat pitcher Ariana Corasaniti faced in the first three frames as the game stayed 0-0.
Another scoreless inning followed, but in the top of the fifth C-NS got a runner to third and, with two out, Giana Wameling delivered a clutch single to score that run, though Scotties pitcher Sarah Pritchard stranded two runners in scoring position, which would prove important.
Now Corasaniti was tasked with maintaining that 1-0 lead, which she did through the fifth inning. An inning later, though, things changed.
Grace Thompson singled to lead off, and Ballston Spa loaded the bases with one out, setting up the game’s most important at-bat.
Caroline Srokowski worked the count full. Then she fouled off three pitches before drilling an RBI single that tied it, 1-1. Another long at-bat followed with Allison Sgambati also getting to a full count and also delivering a run-scoring single.
Not only did the Scotties take the lead with that hit, but two C-NS errors on the play led to two more runs. Rattled, the Northstars allowed run-scoring hits from and Ana Gold and Thompson, her second hits of the inning.
Other than one hit in the seventh inning, the Northstars were kept quiet by Pritchard sas the final outs were made and Ballston Spa advanced to the state final four.
Lindsey Richards, who relieved Corasaniti in this game, is one of four seniors on the squad, along with Julianna Vassallo, Victoria Dunn and Ally Thompson.
Corasaniti, Wameling, Ally Cifaratta, Brandi Feeney, Jordyn Maldonado and Brooke Nicolaos (whose home run keyed the sectional final win over Liverpool) all are slated to return in 2019.