St. Joseph brings home fourth-straight title
HAMMONTON—Riding the strong arm of junior Ava Fisher and a career-best performance at the plate from Angelina Bill, St. Joseph Academy’s softball team won its fourth-consecutive South Jersey Non-Public B title on June 2, defeating Gloucester Catholic 9-2.
“It never gets old. It’s the same enjoyment and the same excitement every year. There might be new girls every year, a new squad, but we’ve always had that chemistry and the drive to win. We’ve had a great pitcher [Fisher] for the two years and that’s been a crucial part. But we have a younger team this year and that has changed the dynamic a little bit,” senior catcher Macie Jacquet said.
Fisher was outstanding, limiting Gloucester Catholic to just two hits and striking out 14.
The Rams were able to plate a couple of runs in the fifth inning, but that was the lone bump in what was an excellent game for Fisher.
“I say all the time, if she walks four or less, it’s going to be tough for the other team to score runs. When she [Fisher] is on her game, teams need to get hits to score runs and that’s hard to do against her,” St. Joseph coach Les Olson said.
Fisher said she felt comfortable going into the game and was pleased to help St. Joe get another championship.
“I felt great. It was huge having a great catcher [Jacquet] who blocked some balls. You get nerves heading into a championship game, but you just have to relax and know that you’re here with your team and that you can do it together. I know Gloucester Catholic has a great team with a great pitcher [Adrianna Green]. It was just an awesome game,” Fisher said.
While Fisher was cruising, Green struggled in the circle, as umpires called several illegal pitches on the Rams starter.
Those calls seemed to rattle Green, who was visibly upset on the field and allowed St. Joe to take a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second.
Bill helped the Wildcats manufacture the run, as her sacrifice bunt moved Bella Davis to third and Davis later scored on a wild pitch.
In the third inning, Bill laced a bases-loaded double, driving in three runs and then she led off the fifth with a solo home run.
“She [Bill] ripped the ball all over the field today. She had her best batting practice of the season yesterday and just had a great game. Even her first at bat, the bunt. We don’t score a run there if she doesn’t execute that,” Olson said.
The home run was the first of Bill’s career at any level.
“I’m not going to lie, I watched it a little. I was afraid it might just be a long fly ball, but I knew I hit it hard,” Bill said.
Bill has battled a few injuries this season that kept her out of the lineup and led to a poor season at the plate.
“I haven’t hit the ball as well as I wanted this season, so it feels great to do this in a championship game,” she said.
Olson, who’s been looking for production from the bottom of the lineup all season, was more than pleased with Bill’s day at the plate. She batted eighth against Gloucester Catholic.
“We’ve had some trouble down there and to see her [Bill] hit like that in a big game is huge for us,” Olson said.
After taking the 1-0 lead in the second, St. Joseph broke the game open In the bottom of the third, scoring six runs.
Fisher and Abby Willis drew walks to start the inning, and after Kylie Tomlin singled to load the bases, Fisher was retired at the plate when Jenna Calchi reached on a fielder’s choice. Davis drew a walk to force in Willis and Bill followed with a bases-clearing double to give the Wildcats a 5-0 lead. After Bella Ramos walked, Alaina Dorsey drove in two more runs with a triple.
In the top of the fifth, Gloucester Catholic took advantage of two walks and an error to score a pair of runs, but St. Joe tacked on one in its half of the frame on Bill’s solo homer.
In the sixth, the Wildcats closed out the scoring when Calchi singled in Willis for a 9-2 lead.
The win sends the Wildcats into the state championship game on June 9 against North Jersey Non-Public B champion Morris Catholic. The two teams met in last year’s title game with Morris Catholic winning 4-3.
This year’s game will be at Kean University on June 9 at 6:30 p.m.
“We almost beat them last year and we definitely have a shot this time,” Olson said.
St. Joseph reached the South Jersey finals after blanking Doane Academy 6-0 on May 30. Fisher had 19 strikeouts in that game while Dorsey had three hits and drove in two runs in the win.