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May 29—Friday’s Northeastern Conference softball tilt was your typical matchup between Gloucester and Marblehead. There was strong pitching on both sides from Gloucester’s Jenna Hoofnagle and Marblehead’s Lauren Donovan. It was tight, low scoring and ultimately decided by a couple of key plays.

In the end, it was the host Fishermen that made fewer mistakes in a 2-0 win at Gloucester High School. Gloucester’s second 2-0 win over the rival Magicians this season.

“Jenna was on today, she was crushing her spots and it looked like she had a little extra on her fastball,” Gloucester head coach John Nicastro said. “Both teams made some big plays, both pitchers were great. We just figured out a way to make a few more plays to get some runs in.”

Marblehead coach Johnny Gold could only tip his cap to the victors.

“We just made a couple mental mistakes and Gloucester didn’t, that’s what it comes down to in these tight games,” he said. “Overall it was a good game. Lauren did what she always does. We just made a couple mistakes that kept us from getting a run in where Gloucester executed in those situations when they had them.”

Friday’s win moves Gloucester to 7-1 on the season with its seventh straight victory. It was also win No. 100 in Nicastro’s career. He becomes the 10th coach in GHS history to reach the 100 career win milestone.

Nicastro is in his eighth season as head coach after taking over in 2012. He built the program from a struggling team to a perennial contender in not only the Northeastern Conference, but in the Division 2 State Tournament as well. He currently sports a 100-56 record as head coach.

“This couldn’t have happened without a lot of great support,” Nicastro said. “My assistant coaches are so good and always have a good scouting report on the opponents. And of course the players. I’ve had so many good softball players come through the program and you can’t have any success without good players.”

Gloucester jumped ahead 1-0 on its very first at bat. Senior shortstop Ella Marshall lined a single between shortstop and third base to lead off the bottom of the first. She then came all the way around to score what turned out to be the game-winning-run when the ball got past the left fielder.

One run was all Hoofnagle needed as she allowed just two hits in a complete game effort with six strikeouts. The junior right hander only allowed three runners to reach scoring position and none of them came home.

Donovan got the tough luck loss as she was also dominant, allowing three hits and one earned run while striking out five.

Marblehead’s best chance to score came in the top of the fifth inning as Ashleigh Maude, who had both of Marblehead’s hits, led off with a single followed by a walk to Maeve Sogoloff.

A sacrifice bunt put runners at second and third and the Magicians (4-4) tried another bunt to get a run home. Hoofnagle, however, fielded the bunt and flipped it to the plate to cut down the runner. In a confusing moment, Marblehead’s baserunner vacated first base and went back to the dugout because she lost track of how many outs there was and was tagged out to end the inning.

“It’s tough to get the runner at home on a bunt like that,” Nicastro said. “That was a perfect underhanded flip from Jenna. If she tries to throw that overhand she doesn’t get her.”

Gloucester tacked on an insurance run in the bottom of the frame when Marshall drew a two-out walk, stole second, then went to third when the throw to second was errant and reached the outfield. She then came in on a Hoofnagle single to make it 2-0.

“Gloucester is very good on the bases, they got speed and they know how to use it,” Gold said. “They can all get bunts down too. They really put pressure on you.”

Hoofnagle got through the final two innings, allowing two baserunners while finishing off the game with a strikeout to get the win.