C-NS senior has firm hand on Northstars softball fortunes
5/2/2019 1:40 PM

Cicero-North Syracuse softball coach Mary Beebe remembers when she began letting catcher Brandi Feeney begin calling her own pitches from behind the plate.  It was midway through Feeney’s sophomore season in 2017. Beebe, who normally calls pitches from the dugout, was flashing signs for what she wanted the pitcher to throw, and Feeny was simultaneously flashing back the same signs.  “I don’t usually let the catcher call pitches, but she knows how to call the game,” Beebe said of her now-senior backstop. “She knows how Ari (pitcher Arianna Corasaniti) is. She knows how to tweak Ali.”  Then, without prompting, Beebe invokes the name of a C-NS softball legend.  “I equate her with Sydney O’Hara,” she says of the Northstar who was the state’s Player of the Year as a senior and went on to become an All-American at Syracuse University.  “I know Brandi’s not a pitcher, but she’s like O’Hara,” Beebe said. “She’s the first one to practice. She’s the last one to leave. She always wants one more of everything. She’s just very humble and selfless and puts the team first - just like Sydney did.”  Feeney, an All-Central New York and all-state selection in 2017 and 2018, once got hitting instructions from O’Hara, who graduated from C-NS in 2013.  The lessons must have stuck.  Feeney, who took over as the Northstars’ catcher midway through her eighth-grade season and hit .280 that year, has since been a .300-plus hitter.  So far this season, she is batting .452 with five home runs and 21 RBI. Feeney hit .463 last season with eight homers and 31 RBI while helping to lead the Northstars to an 18-6 mark an sectional championship.  On Monday, Feeney had a day at the plate, going 3-for-4 with a grand slam and six RBI in an 18-3 rout of Liverpool. The victory raised the No. 11 state-ranked Northstars’ record to 9-1.   “I love hitting,” Feeney said. “I always stay after practice and hit extra. It’s my favorite thing to do.”  Her father, Tom, an assistant coach for the C-NS softball team, said his daughter is constantly trying to improve.  “She’s a very driven kid,” Tom Feeney said on a rainy Wednesday outside the C-NS batting cages. “If we wouldn’t have had practice here today we would have been hitting at home.”  Last weekend, the Feeneys drove to Buffalo to watch Saint Peter’s (where Brandi is going to play Division I softball) play against Canisius.  “We got home at around 7 o’clock and she said, ‘Dad, we’ve got to go hit,’” Tom Feeney said.  Brandi comes by her athletic talent honestly.  Her mother, Missy, was a softball standout (also a catcher) at C-NS and went on to earn all-conference honors at SUNY-Cortland. Tom Feeney played lacrosse and coached the sport for years at C-NS before he decided he didn’t want to miss Brandi’s high school softball career. He began helping Beebe coach softball three years ago.  “I feel like I’m continuing a tradition,” Brandi said. “All of my aunts played at C-NS, and my mom.”  Feeney said she hopes to help the Northstars continue a tradition of success in sectional play. C-NS has won the past two sectional titles (over Liverpool) after losing to the Warriors three straight years in 2014-16, including Brandi’s first two seasons on the varsity.  Beebe said this year’s team has the talent to win another sectional title and make a run in the state playoffs.  “We don’t have captains here,” Beebe said.  Rather than elect leaders, the Northstars just let leaders emerge. This season, a group of five seniors - Feeney, Corasaniti and infielders Ally Cifaratta, Jordyn Maldonado and Isabella Kingsley - has done just that.  “I have five seniors, and they just really lead,” Beebe said. “This team is very special.”

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