• Dan Russoman

St. Joe’s Olson earns 300th win


St. Joseph Academy’s softball team celebrates coach Les Olson’s 300th career victory following last week’s win against Ocean City. (Courtesy Photo)

OCEAN CITY—Jenna Calchi’s first hit of the season was a big one for St. Joseph Academy’s softball team, as it helped lift the Wildcats to a 6-0 win at Ocean City last week, giving coach Les Olson the 300th victory of his career.


“It [the 300 wins] is a product of being around a long time and having a lot of good players. If you do this long enough and have good players, you’ll win a lot,” Olson said.


“I’ve never said that I’m some great coach. The only thing I know is to not let anyone outwork you,” he said.


Olson’s career began at Sacred Heart High School in Vineland, where he compiled a 227-73 record and won three South Jersey titles and four Cape Atlantic League championships. After that school closed in 2012, he coached a few seasons at Cumberland County College before taking over at St. Joseph in 2017. The Wildcats have had just one losing season in Olson’s tenure, his first season with the Wildcats. Since then St. Joe has compiled a 75-27 record and won the South Jersey Non-Public B title in 2019.


“Coach Les [Olson] deserves this. He’s done a great job here and this team is a family. We all love him,” St. Joseph athletic director Anne Marie Mercado said.


Last week’s game at Ocean City was scoreless through six innings before Calchi’s double in the top of the seventh scored Karlee Middleman, sparking a six-run rally.


Before that hit, Calchi had been stuck in an 0-for-13 slump to start the season.


“She had some tough luck the first week, a lot of shots hit right at people. She had her head down a little bit but we told her keep swinging, it will come and that was huge spot us,” Olson said.


St. Joe has averaged more than 10 runs per game this season, but had a tough time generating offense against Ocean City.


“Ocean City played their hearts out. It was a 0-0 game. We do a lot of hitting, not much today, but it may have been my fault. We played six games in five days and I gave them yesterday off, which I don’t do much and I think we came out a little flat,” Olson said.


After Calchi’s double, Brianna Bailey belted a three-run home that put the game away. Errors later in the inning allowed both Macie Jacquet and Katie Dainton to score for a 6-0 win.


Makayla Veneziale earned the win, tossing a one-hit shutout with 15 strikeouts. Veneziale struck out the first nine batters of the game and was in trouble just once when she pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the fourth inning.


The win against Ocean City came two days after St. Joe pulled out another tough win at Egg Harbor Twp. (EHT), defeating the host Eagles 2-1.


The Wildcats scored a run in the fourth, then added another in the sixth, holding off an EHT comeback for the win.


Veneziale struck out 11 to earn the win.


After managing just eight runs to begin the week, St. Joe swung the bats much better in its next game, a 12-2 win at Mainland.


A five run first inning set the tone for the game, as the Wildcats rolled to a win.


Veneziale doubled, homered and drove in four runs, while Bailey finished 4-for-5 and both Davi Jimenez and Xelynn Conde had two RBIs.


Veneziale struck out 13 in the win.


Playing their fourth game in five days, St. Joseph blanked host Wildwood Catholic 16-0 on May 7.


Jimenez struck out five in five innings for the win, and added a triple, a run scored and three RBIs in the game.


Atira Myrie, Dainton and Calchi each drove in two runs.


Last weekend, St. Joseph won two games at the Spartan Softball Showdown at Deptford High School.


The Wildcats opened with a 10-0 win against host Deptford. Veneziale struck out four and allowed just three hits. She added a double and triple. Jimenez doubled and Calchi hit a home run for the Wildcats.


In the championship game, Myrie broke open a 2-0 game with a three-run homer in the fourth inning as St. Joe downed Washington Twp. 8-1.


Bailey added a solo homer and was 4-for-4. Jimenez and Veneziale each had two hits. Veneziale notched her 13th win of the season with 13 strikeouts.


Earlier this week, St. Joseph played at Paul VI, but that game ended too late for this edition. On May 12, the Wildcats visit Lower Cape May at 4 p.m.