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North Shore's strong start from relief

What’s the secret (well, one of them) to North Shore’s success? Relief pitcher. Don’t look now, but the Vikings are 11-3 and Hanna Hacker has quietly climbed up the leader board and is third in Nassau with 10 wins.

Hacker, a sophomore, was the team’s only pitcher last season and she was named all-county. “We've had Hanna since eighth grade,” coach Lauren Gotta said. “When she was in eighth grade, we expected her to just throw a couple of innings. Turned out our regular pitcher got hurt and she had to fill in. She did so admirably… Every year she gets better.”

But this year North Shore has thrown Lexi Marshall into the mix. No rotation, just regular relief. Gotta has gone to the bullpen in the fifth or sixth inning this season and called for the lefty. The strategy, she explained, is (1) to keep Hacker, (2) give Marshall some innings and (3) keep offenses off-balance.

While Hacker is a crafty right-hander, relying on movement and deft control of her arsenal (curveball, riser, fastball, screwball, changeup and drop), the sophomore Marshall is a hard-throwing southpaw with an electric fastball.

“Hanna has a lot of movement and good location, but Lexi throws really hard,” the coach said. “It gives the lineup a completely different look late in the game.”

They’re also powered (pun intended) by Elle Hoffman, who’s tied for second in the county with five home runs.

Right now they’re in second place in Conference ABC-IV at 10-3, two games behind Glen Cove, with three games left. Can the Vikings make a push?

“When everybody plays at their top level, I think can do well and surprise a lot of teams,” Gotta said. “As long as everybody is at the top of their games, we can make a run and some good things.”

Be on the lookout for: I'll be headed out in a while to cover the East Meadow vs. Farmingdale game. Should be a good one. East Meadow, at 10-1, is atop AA-I but Farmingdale (7-2) is red hot and Isabella Corrao is on a great run. She'll also be facing her former batterymate, Brittany Anghel, who was her catcher last year at St. Dominic. The Jets took their first loss on Wednesday. That game story will be in Saturday's paper... This week's beat note will likely be on Floral Park's Sam Giovaniello, who pitched a 10-inning no-hitter with a career-high 20 strikeouts on Wednesday.

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