HAMMONTON — Katie Dainton always makes herself heard on the St. Joseph High School softball team.

The freshman catcher passionately cheers on her teammates when they are at-bat. And she is a vocal leader behind the plate, directing field position and strategy.

But Dainton also makes noise when batting.

Dainton hit a three-run homer in the first inning to lead the undefeated Wildcats to a 6-1 victory over Buena Regional in a Cape-Atlantic League United Division game Tuesday.

The Wildcats’ Emily Jost homered and singled.

St. Joseph, ranked No. 7 in The Press Elite 11, improved to 11-0. Buena, ranked ninth, fell to 7-2.

“She has been our little dynamite the whole year, hitting the ball all over the field,” St. Joseph coach Les Olson said. “And being a leader on the field behind the plate, she is very vocal, I couldn’t ask for anything more out of her.”

With two outs in the top of the first inning and runners at second and third, Dainton’s hit just cleared the fence in right field to drive in Gianna Terpolilli and Gabby Fanelli and put the Wildcats up 3-0.

Dainton initially thought she was going to fly out to deep right. The 15-year-old from Mays Landing was surprised her home run was one of the major deciding factors in the game.

“I’m just glad that we won the game,” Dainton said. “I thought they might come back because they are a really good team, but we played good.

“I tried hard at tryouts, and luckily I made varsity. I’m just glad to be around good girls, and practicing hard every day.”

But stellar pitching also played a role in the Wildcats’ win.

Makayla Veneziale pitched a complete game with eight strikeouts and gave just three hits. The sophomore also doubled and scored a run.

“It was a tough game,” Veneziale, 16, of Sicklerville said. “I just tried to focus on throwing the ball and having my defense have my back. I’m glad my defense was good today. Buena is a good team.

“It feels good. We are going to keep this rolling by practicing hard and just having each other’s back.”

The Chiefs’ Kate Egan singled and scored their lone run in the fifth inning after Reyna Torres hit a sacrifice bunt up the first-base line. Bridgette Gilliano and Hailey Carano each singled.

“We had opportunities, but I don’t think we capitalized on some that we did have,” Buena coach Pam Pickett said. “When you are going up against a good pitcher, you have to capitalize on the opportunities you do have.”

Natalie Ampole also pitched a complete game for the Chiefs. She struck out six and walked three.

“We have a lot of season left to go,” Pickett said. “This is fun. This is what the girls want. They want to play some good competition.”

The Wildcats’ Fanelli singled and scored two runs, and Carli Melchiorre hit a sacrifice single in the sixth.

St. Joseph will compete next week in the Grand Strand Softball Classic in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The Wildcats will leave Saturday and will play five games from Monday through Friday.

“I tell all the girls all the time that every time you win another game, it only makes the opposition want to come and beat you more,” Olson said. “So, we have got to keep getting better and keep getting ready for the next opponent.”

Buena Reg.;000 010 0—1

St. Joseph;300 012 x—6

2B— Veneziale SJ.

HR— Dainton, Jost SJ.

Records— St. Joseph 11-0; Buena 7-2.

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Contact: 609-272-7210 PMulranen@pressofac.com Twitter @ACPressMulranen

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