St. Joe chasing another South Jersey title
HAMMONTON—Championships have become the norm for the St. Joseph Academy softball team, and despite the loss of some key players to graduation, the Wildcats are expected to once again be among the contenders for a South Jersey Non-Public B title.
St. Joe has won the last three sectional championships, bringing home South Jersey Non-Public B crowns in 2019, 2021 and 2022. The 2020 season was canceled due to COVID-19.
Head coach Les Olson expects excellence from his team, and although there are challenges awaiting the Wildcats this season, he anticipates another strong season.
“We have been moved to the very strong American division of the Cape Atlantic League (CAL). That along with key non- conference games with Audubon, Lenape and Haddon Heights. We will also play in the Overbrook Battle of the Conferences Tournament and the Oakcrest Betty Howell Classic Tournament. We feel our division schedule and non-conference and tournament schedule will have us primed for another nice run in the Non Public B playoffs,” Olson said.
To meet these challenges, St. Joe will lean on its returning veterans.
Olson singled out his battery as the heart of the team, as pitcher Ava Fisher and catcher Macie Jacquet are both headed to Division I colleges.
Jacquet is a two-time CAL All-Star who blocks pitches well and has a strong arm. A quick, athletic catcher, she will bat second in the lineup. Jacquet batted .344 last season, scored 43 runs and drove in 19.
Fisher was one of the league’s top pitchers, Olson said she has great speed on her pitches and has improved her command this season. Walks hurt Fisher at times last year as she issued 135 free passes while striking out 172 batters.
The junior, who is headed to East Carolina University, will bat cleanup for the Wildcats following a 2022 season that saw her hit .470 with six home runs and 47 RBIs.
St. Joe lost two of its top run producers, Katie Dainton and Xelynn Rodriguez to graduation, costing the team more than 100 runs scored and 100 RBIs.
As a result, the Wildcats will need increased production from returning starters Abby Willis, Jenna Calchi, Bella Davis, Kylie Tomlin and Angelina Bill.
Willis hit .362 with 44 runs batted in as a freshman last year and will start at third base again this season.
Calchi, a senior, has moved around the field throughout her career, and will start at second base this year. She batted .344 last year and drove in 24 runs.
Davis shifts from center field to right this season. The senior recovered from a bad arm injury to score 29 runs and bat .304 last season. Tomlin will play left field after a season that saw the junior hit .315 with 16 RBIs.
Bill adds a strong bat to the lineup and could split time in the outfield and behind the plate. Also a pitcher, she will be the team’s top relief option and number two starter.
One of Olson’s concerns is depth behind the veteran starters. The Wildcats are expecting key contributions from a few freshman this season.
Isabella Ramos will start at shortstop while Alaina Dorsey will begin the season in center field and bat in the leadoff spot.
“We will need these two to pick up the speed of the varsity game quickly,” Olson said.
Brooke Tyndale and Ellie Dainton saw varsity time last year and are back to provide depth this season.
St. Joseph opened its season earlier this week at Audubon, but that game ended too late for this edition. On April 5, the Wildcats play at Millville at 4 p.m.