The Gloucester softball team was the best team in the Northeastern Conference North Division during the regular season, taking home its second straight conference title. It's no coincidence that the Fishermen also have the best player in the conference.

Senior pitcher and captain Sydney McKay was named the NEC North's Most Valuable Player by the coaches of the conference after leading her team to a 17-3 regular season record, 12-2 in the NEC North.

"Sydney is so consistent and she has proven to be a big game player time and time again," Gloucester head coach John Nicastro said. "She has dominant stuff, four pitches to keep hitters off balance and she crushes her spots."

McKay had a memorable 2019 regular season as she has 17 wins and 54 for her career, setting a new Gloucester High School career wins record, passing Jillian LaFlam, who was also the last Gloucester player to win Northeastern Conference MVP, taking home the honors in 1995. 

In a year where the NEC was ripe with parity, McKay stood above the rest with her consistency, as she only allowed more than three runs in a game just twice all season while sporting an ERA under 1.50 to go along with six shutouts.

Gloucester was well represented on the conference's All-Star team as fellow senior captains Liz Schuster and Tracy Wood were named first team all NEC. 

Schuster is a four-year starter and catcher who caught every game behind the plate for the team over the last two seasons despite the fact that she never played the position before her junior season. She has developed into an elite defensive catcher and one of Gloucester's most consistent bats in the middle of the lineup.

Wood, on the other hand, is one of the most dangerous bats in the NEC as she led the Fishermen in home runs and was one of the team's top run producers. She also has elite speed and covers a ton of ground in center field.

Fellow senior captain and right fielder Jemima Grow, junior first baseman Maddie Machado and sophomore shortstop Ella Marshall were named second team NEC All-Stars.

Gloucester softball is currently waiting on its Division 2 North Quarterfinal opponent. The Fishermen, the No. 2 seed in the section, will meet the winner of Thursday's first round game between No. 7 Burlington and No. 10 Danvers on Monday at Gloucester High School (3:30 p.m.).

Oliver, Abbott first team All-Stars

The NEC also announced its baseball All-Star teams, and the NEC North champion Fishermen were well represented on that team as well with two All Conference players, three more second team All-Stars and the Coach of the Year.

Rory Gentile was honored as the conference Coach of the Year in his first season at the helm. Gentile managed the Fishermen to a 16-4 regular season record, winning the conference by three games. 

Senior Ben Oliver and sophomore Zach Abbott were named first team All-Stars.

Oliver is a jack of all trades player who can play multiple positions, and play them well. He is Gloucester's No. 2 starter in the rotation behind Abbott but would be a No. 1 on most teams. He is also one of the team's most consistent bats that can hit at the top or in the middle of the order thanks to his combination of power and bat control.

Abbott, on the other hand, established himself not only as Gloucester's staff ace, but one of the most dominant pitchers in the entire conference. Abbott sports a record of 8-1 and is a power pitcher that can blow hitters away with his fastball and keep them guessing with a reliable curveball and changeup.

Representing the Fishermen as second team NEC All-Stars are junior catcher E.J. Field, junior outfielder Daylon Lark and junior outfielder Marcus Montagnino.

Gloucester is scheduled to open up state tournament play on Saturday with a first round game at Nate Ross Field (4 p.m.). The Fishermen are the No. 2 seed in Division 3 North and will take on the winner of Thursday's preliminary round game between No. 15 Wilmington and No. 18 Dracut.