HAMMONTON—Back home after a week-long trip to Florida, St. Joseph Academy’s softball team waited through a pair of rainouts before making their home debut last weekend, sweeping a pair of games against Holy Spirit and Middle Twp.
“We had a rough trip [in Florida],” St. Joseph coach Les Olson said.
The Wildcats went 1-3 down south, and were eager to put a few wins on their record last week.
“I thought we played pretty well. We lost a game that we probably should have won, and then we beat a really strong team from Kentucky, but I was hoping we’d do better on the trip than we did,” Olson said.
After games against Absegami and Audubon were postponed due to rain and poor field conditions last week, the Wildcats finally saw their first action at home this season last Saturday, opening the doubleheader with a 16-6 win against Cape Atlantic League rival Holy Spirit.
Ava Fisher belted a pair of home runs in the win, finishing the game with seven RBIs. Her 3-for-3 performance led a 15-hit attack for the Wildcats that backed the solid pitching of sophomore Angelina Bill, who earned the win in her varsity debut with four strikeouts in six solid innings.
Bill is working with a fracture in her glove hand and was playing for the first time this season.
“I felt pretty good. I missed on a few pitches, but all-in-all, I thought I had a good game,” Bill said.
The Wildcats opened the game with three runs in the bottom of the first, then added two in the second to build a 5-1 lead. A five-run fifth inning rally helped break the game open for St. Joe.
In addition to Fisher’s two home runs, Xelynn Rodriguez had three hits, scored four runs and drove in two, while Jenna Calchi had three RBIs and Abby Willis drove in two.
Fisher was the winning pitcher in the second game, a 13-3 victory against Middle Twp.
The sophomore overcame some wildness in the middle of the game to finish with 10 strikeouts. She walked six and allowed just two hits in the win.
Fisher allowed a run in the top of the first, but St. Joe fought back with three in its half of the inning. Katie Dainton led off with a triple and scored when Macie Jacquet reached on an error. Two batters later, Fisher delivered an RBI single and courtesy runner Tiffany Wiley came around to score later in the inning for a 3-1 lead.
In the second, Ellie Dainton doubled and scored on Rodriguez’s fielder’s choice, while Katie Dainton walked and came around on a single by Fisher. Willis’ single later in the inning drove in another run and St. Joseph led 6-1.
Middle was able to take advantage of a hit batter, a single and three walks to score two runs in the top of the third, but St. Joe answered with three in its half of the frame, as Katie Dainton drove in a run and Rodriguez added a two-run double.
In the fourth, Calchi walked and scored to put the Wildcats up 10-3 and St. Joe sealed the win with three runs in the bottom of the fifth as Willis had an RBI single and Isabella Davis’ sacrifice fly scored the clinching run.
“We needed this [the two wins]. Even though we played well in Florida, I think our confidence was a little low. It was good to see us swing the bats and score some runs,” Olson said.
Olson has been cautiously optimistic about his team as it chases a third-straight South Jersey Non-Public B championship. The Wildcats have several young players and transfers this season, and the team is still looking for the chemistry it needs to win another title.
“We’ve had some issues on and off the field, but I think it’s starting to come together. We showed today what some of the younger girls are capable of, and we know what the older ones can do, so we’ll see how it all works out,” Olson said.
Earlier this week, St. Joe played at Absegami and at Mainland, but those games ended too late for this edition. On April 14, St. Joe visits Clearview at 4 p.m.