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  • Writer's pictureDan Russoman

St. Joseph chasing second-straight state title

HAMMONTON—When Les Olson became St. Joseph Academy’s softball coach in 2017, he vowed to bring home a state championship.

After falling short in the state finals three-straight times, Olson and the Wildcats finally delivered last spring, winning the programs first-ever state crown.

“It took us a while, but we did it,” Olson said.

This year, the challenge for St. Joe changes from chasing the title to defending it, and the Wildcats appear up to the task, returning a talented roster that has been bolstered by the addition of several strong underclassmen.

“We always have the same goal—win the state championship,” Olson said.

Olson is a demanding coach, one whose old-school style sometimes frustrates his players, but delivers results. St. Joseph is always one of the most fundamentally-sound teams in the region and the Wildcats rarely hurt themselves in the field, at the plate or on the bases.

St. Joe lost only three starters off the team that stunned defending state champion Morris Catholic in last year’s final, and while those players will be missed, the Wildcats should be able to replace their production this season.

Few pitchers in the state are better than senior Ava Fisher, who was brilliant in last year’s playoffs and dominated in the state championship game.

Fisher avoided the wildness that plagued her early in her career and became a force last season, finishing with 267 strikeouts in 158 innings while sporting a 2.39 ERA.

She was also one of the team’s top hitters, batting .410 with 10 home runs and 32 RBI.

Another senior, Angelina Bill, overcame some early-season injuries to deliver a key hit in the state final and returns this year as a utility player who will likely start in the outfield but may also see time behind the plate and in the circle.

Back in the infield this year are Bella Ramos, Brooke Tyndale and Abby Willis. Willis, the starter at third base, batted .316 with three home runs and 28 RBI. Tyndale, a middle infielder, will look to improve on her stats at the plate, while Ramos adds speed to the lineup.

Also back is Leylani Muniz, who handled first base duties and also pitched last year.

Joining Bill in the outfield this season will be Alaina Dorsey and Kylie Tomlin.

Dorsey was one of the state’s best freshman last spring and could be a breakout star this season, She comes off a year where she batted .427, scored 27 runs, drove in 19 and stole 15 bases.

Tomlin is a steady defender who should improve at the plate this year.


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