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Martins Ferry fends off Cambridge, 5-4

T-L Photo/KIM NORTH MARTINS FERRY pitcher Lauren McFarland gets ready to deliver a pitch plateward Friday afternoon against visiting Cambridge. She struck out seven in a 5-4 victory.

MARTINS FERRY — Jerry Magistro had never coached a high school softball game on Good Friday. The veteran head coach had spent all of his career at St. John Central, which didn’t play games on Easter weekend.

Magistro is 1-0 on the Catholic holiday now after a nail-biting, 5-4, nod over visiting Cambridge high atop the Purple City. The triumph was the 350th of his elongated career and his third straight after two season-opening setbacks at Martins Ferry.

“That’s something I never thought about,” Magistro said of the Good Friday factor. “We never played games on Good Friday at St. John.”

The magical number didn’t come easy though.

The Purple Riders (3-2) were cruising along with a 3-0 lead after five innings as junior Lauren McFarland had checked the Bobcats (1-2) on just one hit. However, after McFarland recorded the first two outs in the top of the sixth, the visitors evened the count with some help from the hosts.

Madisyn Mickey singled to left and continued to third when the ball was misplayed. It appeared Martins Ferry was going to get out of the inning unscathed, but Abby Mann’s flyball to center was dropped. Desti Broomhall legged out an infield roller to third and Presly Dood followed with a two-run double to the fence in left-center to deadlock things at 3.

Despite their youth, the Purple Riders, who only have two seniors on the roster, showed resilience in scoring twice to take the lead for good.

The two-out lightning started when Hunter Pollock doubled over short. Danielle Lude, who was 3-for-4, laced a single to the same spot as Pollock raced home to make it 4-3. Lude took second on the throw home, which turned out to be huge as Maria Clark, playing in her first game of the season, stroked a double to the fence in right-center as Lude touched home with what turned out to be the game-winner.

“I hate to be upset when you win a game, but we nearly gave that one away,” he said. “We have to play better defense. We’ll take the win and hopefully learn from it and get better.”

Cambridge didn’t go down without a fight as it scored once on an error in the top of the seventh and had runners at second and third with only one out.

Martins Ferry got a huge break when the left-handed Mickey attempted to bunt, but stepped out of the batters box while making contact. She was ruled out. Mann’s grounder to short ended the threat, and the game.

The Purple Riders took a 1-0 lead with an unearned run in the third. They made it 2-0 on Shelby Thomas’s two-out RBI single an inning later. It became 3-0 in the fifth as McFarland helped her own cause with a run-scoring double off the fence in right-center.

Cambridge nearly broke into the scoring column in the fourth when Desti Broomhall singled sharply to left to break up McFarland’s no-hit bid. Broomhall went to third when the ball was misplayed, but a running catch towards the line in right by freshman Ella McFarland ended the inning.

“That was the play of the game in my mind,” Magistro said. “That was a great catch. If she doesn’t catch it they score a run and probably have a girl on third.”

Lude led the 10-hit Martins Ferry attack with two singles, a double and an RBI. She also scored three times. Clark had a single, double and run batted in.

“We’ve got a lot of power on this team, but sometimes they all want to go for the fence,” Magistro added. “They just need to understand that a base hit with runners in scoring position in as important. It’s not always about (going for) the fence.”

Lauren McFarland struck out seven, walked a pair and yielded three hits.

Martins Ferry was guilty of five errors.

Martins Ferry 5, Cambridge 4

Cambridge 000 003 1 — 4 3 4

Martins Ferry 001 112 x — 5 10 5

C–Bradison lp (4SO, 0BB) and Dodd; Broomhall 2S, rbi; Dodd D, 2rbi

MF–L. McFarland wp (7SO, 2BB) and Thomas; Lude 2S, D, rbi; Clark S, D, rbi; L. McFarland D, rbi; Thomas D, rbi

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