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  • Writer's pictureDan Russoman

St. Joe tops Cedar Creek

THG/Dan Russoman. To purchase photos in The Gazette, call (609) 704-1940. Ava Fisher earned the win as St. Joseph Academy’s softball team topped Cape Atlantic League rival Cedar Creek last week.

HAMMONTON—The St. Joseph Academy softball team was waiting for this one.

After falling to Cedar Creek in last season’s Cape Atlantic League semifinals, the Wildcats spent the entire offseason waiting to play the Pirates this year. Last week, they avenged their CAL playoff loss with a 6-1 win in a key early-season division matchup.

“We’ve played them a lot the last couple of years, including in the CAL Tournament last year (an 8-6 loss). I told the girls before the game that we always talk about putting stuff in your back pocket that doesn’t go your way, and being able to pull it back out. I said the last time they came here it wasn’t a good situation. They beat us up pretty bad, so I said, ‘it’s time to pull that back out.’ And they did what they had to do today,” St. Joseph coach Les Olson said.

Cedar Creek grabbed an early 1-0 lead after Leah Martin doubled off St. Joe’s Ava Fisher, advanced to third on a fielder’s choice and scored when Kelsey McFadden singled to right field.

Fisher was able to rebound from the rough start, and despite walking seven in the game, finished strong, allowing just two more hits and keeping Cedar Creek off the scoreboard.

“I just realized I needed to slow down my pitching and not worry about how hard I was throwing. I had to hit my spots, spin the ball and let my defense have my back. It wasn’t about strikeouts, it was about letting my defense have my back. I knew we were coming into a hard game today against a very good offensive team, I just figured after the first inning I could slow things down and let my defense get it done,” Fisher said.

After stranding four runners in the first two innings, St. Joseph finally broke through in the bottom of the third. Abby Willis singled with one out and scored when Fisher followed with a double. Jenna Calchi then reached on an error, scoring Fisher for a 2-1 St. Joe lead.

The Wildcats added four more runs in the bottom of the fourth. Bella Ramos singled and moved to second on Alaina Dorsey’s single. The runners advanced on a ground ball from Macie Jacquet and Willis followed with a two-run triple. Fisher then crushed a two-run home run to center field to put the Wildcats up 6-1.

“Abby [Willis] is really good about getting people hyped up for the game and we’ve done really well with stringing hits together. If one person gets a hit it seems like it’s one after another. I knew with a 3-and-0 count she’d be coming right down the middle, or somewhere in the strike zone, so I was like, ‘if I see something good, I’m going to swing.’ It was important to get that cushion,” Fisher said of her home run.

The win was St. Joe’s second-straight after a season-opening loss at Audubon, a game where Olson said the Wildcats lacked enthusiasm.

“For some reason we didn’t have the fire on Monday, Opening Day,” Olson said.

“The day before I was the one going crazy and they were all like, ‘what’s wrong with you today, coach?’ I said, ‘It’s Opening Day Eve! What are you talking about? It’s like Christmas Eve! Tomorrow is Opening Day.’ But we just didn’t have that fire. Audubon is a really good team and we were in it, 1-1, into the sixth inning and you would have thought we were losing by five at that point. We talked about how good teams find a way to rebound, and we played well in Millville, put some pressure on them, and came back and did the same thing (against Cedar Creek). Being 2-0 in this division is big,” Olson said.

In the season-opening game, the host Green Wave were able to score four times in the sixth inning to break open a close game and post a win.

Jacquet had two hits in the loss for St. Joseph.

The Wildcats rebounded to beat Millville 13-4 to even their record at 1-1.

A five-run second inning rally put the Wildcats in control and they sealed the win with five more runs in the top of the seventh.

Dorsey tripled and drove in four runs in the win, while Jacquet and Fisher both homered.

Last weekend, St. Joe improved to 3-1 with a 6-5 win against West Deptford. After falling behind 5-0 in the first inning, the Wildcats scored four in the second and one in the fifth to tie the game before winning with a run in the bottom of the ninth.

Willis had a pair of doubles and Ramos had two RBIs in the win. Fisher struck out six to earn the win in relief.

Earlier this week, St. Joseph played at Hammonton, but that game ended too late for this edition. On April 12, the Wildcats play at Ocean City at 4 p.m.


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