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Familiar name brings about end to North Collins' softball season

MOREAU – Paige McCormick.

It's a name that Panama sports fans know fairly well considering the Division I talent played vital roles in preventing the Panthers from winning state Class D girls basketball championships the past three years.

It turns out McCormick's athletic abilities aren't limited to the court. She can do wonders with a bat and softball in her hand.

North Collins discovered that the hard way, and the best season in Eagles history is over.

North Collins' dream of winning a New York State Public High Schools Athletic Association championship ended two wins shy of becoming fulfilled. Section X's Heuvelton cruised past the Eagles, 7-0, in a semifinal contest Saturday at Moreau Recreation Park near Glens Falls.

McCormick's pitching kept NC's offense in check as she yielded just three hits, while her bat perhaps proved to be the most crushing blow to the Eagles' chances of taking flight.

She crushed a two-out, three-run homer to center field two pitches after blasting a shot foul a good way over the fence in left. That made it 5-0 and proved to be a bit deflating to a young North Collins (17-6) team that hoped to play for a title the same day the school's baseball team was playing for a championship down in Binghamton.

Heuvelton's first three batters reached in the top of the third with Kedan Mack's single the Bulldogs' first hit of the game. It wouldn't be their last as they collected six hits that inning against junior Rebecca Cyrek.

Katie Palmer (3 for 4) broke the scoreless tie with a two-run double to left. Cyrek struck out the next two batters, giving coach Jan Warren a decision. He could let Cyrek pitch to McCormick, the clean-up hitter with a base open, or walk her. He opted to pitch to the dangerous McCormick, who crushed a 2-1 offering foul over the fence in left two pitches before smoking a three-run homer to center.

"I probably should have put her on," Warren said. "I don't know why I didn’t. We thought we could get her out because we got her out the first time around. Bad luck that she hit it over the fence. … It kind of demoralized us a little bit, but I was happy with the way they fought the rest of the game."

North Collins' best chance to seize the momentum may have been in the bottom of the first. With one out, Brianna Krawczyk reached via single. She stole second a third – the latter with two outs. But McCormick came out on top of a 14-pitch at-bat with NC clean-up hitter Morgan Lawton – retiring her on a comebacker to pitcher.

Heuvelton improved to 20-0 with the win, playing for a state title later Saturday, while first-time Section VI champion and state semifinalist North Collins looks toward the future.

"Up to this point we were having great pitching, great defense and getting timely hitting," Warren said. "Today that kind of let us down a little bit. I'm not ashamed of what they've done. I think this is going to be a springboard for years to come for us. … I'm very proud of what they've done."

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