Dollard fires a one-hitter as Egg Harbor Township wins its third straight CAL title.

HAMMONTON – When Madison Dollard gets a call, she’s a difficult customer.

Just ask the St. Joseph Academy softball team.

The senior right-hander from Egg Harbor Township acted again Monday, maintaining her dominance in the circle with a one-hitter in a 1-0 win over St. Joseph in the Cape-Atlantic League championship game.

The Eagles (17-9) took home the CAL Tournament trophy for the third straight season. Dollard has all three championship wins, including the last two against St. Joseph.

More: Brackets released for 2024 NJ softball state tournaments

“I think I can throw better under pressure,” said Dollard, who attends Farleigh Dickinson University. “I like to challenge myself in the big games against the better teams. I felt like I hit my spots better (Monday) than I have for most of the season.

Dollard has certainly put St. Joseph in a tough spot over the years. So much so that it wouldn’t be surprising if the Wildcats were willing to push the top pitcher to Teaneck themselves.

That’s because Dollard has owned St. Joseph for the past two seasons and posted a 4-1 record in her last five starts against the team from Hammonton. In 33 innings, she held the Wildcats to just two runs on 10 hits while striking out 55. In her only loss, a 1–0 setback on May 2, she was hit by a liner on her chest but remained in the match.

“(Dollard) always stands up when she plays against us, that’s for sure,” St. Joseph head coach Les Olson said. “You can see that we have struggled to score against her the last two years.

‘She’s so smart. If she pushes you to go outside, she will arrest you inside. When you let go of one of the low notes, it comes up. She has no routine and keeps you guessing all the time.”

And you certainly don’t want to make her angry.

After reading a prediction online that EHT would lose in the final, Dollard didn’t need any more encouragement.

“Whoever said we were going to lose, thank you for ticking her off,” EHT head coach Kristi Troster said. “She was quite warm as of noon today. She said she was going to negotiate and that’s exactly what she did.”

Dollard faced one batter above the minimum of 21, with an one-out single by Kylie Tomlin in the fourth inning as the only blemish.

In her last four starts, Dollard has scored just one run on five hits with three walks and 46 Ks. The stretch has lowered her career ERA to south of 1.00, including a mark of 1.14 this season. She scored a career-high 236 strikeouts this season.

“She was definitely there (Monday),” said senior catcher Payton Colbert, who will attend Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina this fall. “Her curveball, her screwball, everything to be honest (worked). It just turns at the last second and no one sees it.”

Locked in a classic pitching duel with St. Joseph’s Ava Fisher, Egg Harbor Township got the only run of the game in the sixth inning.

St. Joseph (16-8) appeared to escape a second-and-third no-out jam in the sixth after a dashing defensive play eliminated a runner at third base. However, a wild pitch allowed pinch-runner Lucy Stinson to score with two outs.

“We were one pitch away from getting out of that inning, so that makes it even harder,” Olson said.

Egg Harbor Township weathered the storm after losing five of seven games midway through the season, but it was a 4-3 setback against Mainland on May 8 that really caused the team to regroup.

Both Colbert and Dollard said the team has grown closer after that loss and the Eagles now have their sights set on bigger prizes in the next two weeks.

“A lot of people counted us out this year and I’m more than happy to prove them wrong,” Troster said. “This was a great first step, but we hope for six more games.”

Tom McGurk is a regional sports reporter for the Courier-Post, The Daily Journal and Burlington County Times, where he has covered South Jersey sports for more than 30 years. If you have a sports story that needs to be told, contact him at (856) 486-2420 or email [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @McGurkSports. Support local journalism with a digital subscription.