Three decades, and four state championships, into a historic tenure, Cicero-North Syracuse softball coach Kerry Bennett reached another milestone.
When the Northstars defeated Rome Free Academy 9-3 on Thursday afternoon, it gave Bennett his 600th coaching victory.
Bennett's time bridges the entire period since the Cicero and North Syracuse high schools merged. A generation of Section III titles have followed, with the added bonus of state championships claimed as recently as 2006, plus trips to the last two state final fours.
The quest for a fifth state title is well underway, and all that stood between C-NS and win no. 600 for Bennett was an RFA side that was a keen rival in seasons past, but had started 1-3 this spring.
Still, the Black Knights bolted to a 3-0 lead by the end of the second inning. From there, though, pitcher Kalet Lenart settled down and blanked RFA the rest of the way, overcoming six hits and four walks by striking out nine.
In the top of the third, C-NS got a run, and in the fourth it moved ahead, 4-3, by scoring three times. Another run followed in the fifth, but the Northstars didn't feel too secure until it burned the Black Knights for four runs in the top of the seventh.
Sydney Harbaugh, with three hits, ignited the attack, while Lindsay Silfer tripled, singled, scored twice and drove in two runs. Morgan Phillips, Sydney O'Hara, Amy Van Hoven and Brooke Szabo each managed two hits, with O'Hara and Szabo both scoring a pair of runs. Brittany Paul and Lauren Floyd scored one run apiece.
Now the schedule picks up for C-NS, as it plays West Genesee (a rematch of last year's Section III Class AA final) and Fayetteville-Manlius before an April 21 doubleheader against Horseheads at the Gillette Road complex.