DON KETCHUM is a native of Phoenix. He was a sportswriter for The Arizona Republic/The Phoenix Gazette for more than three decades. He covered high school sports on several occasions as well as the Arizona Diamondbacks, Arizona Cardinals and Arizona State sports. From 2008-14, he was a staff writer for, the web site of the Arizona Interscholastic Association.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

State tennis doubles like looking in a mirror

Sophomore Lorelei Glidden was excited that she and her Xavier Prep doubles teammate, senior Kate Straneva, won their third-round match in the Division I state tournament on Saturday (April 21) at Gene Autry Park in Mesa, earning a spot in next Friday’s (April 27) quarterfinals.

Glidden and Straneva are the sixth-seeded team, and they will play the No. 3 seed in the next round.

If the opponent looks familiar, they should.

In a strange twist of fate, Glidden and Straneva will face none other than their Xavier teammates, sophomores Erica Stutz and Emily Even, at approximately 3:30 p.m. on Friday at the Paseo Racquet Center in Glendale.

The winner would advance to the semifinals next Saturday morning (April 28) at Paseo. Semifinal winners meet for the title later that afternoon.

“We are excited for the chance,’’ Glidden said.

Said Straneva: “At first, we didn’t even think we were going to be in the tournament, then we got the six seed. Now this is the next step.’’

The two Xavier teams played a bit against each other back at Xavier on Saturday morning as they prepared for their mid-day matches across town.

Glidden and Straneva defeated Melia Menke and Alexis Markan of Phoenix Pinnacle, 6-1, 6-2. Stutz and Even defeated Elly Klages and Jordan Witter of Chandler Basha, 6-0, 6-2.

“Being the No. 6 seed means Lorelei and Kate would have had to play a tough match, anyway, but it’s kind of unfortunate that it has to be their own team,’’ said Xavier coach Laurie Martin.

So will the teams do some “trash talking’’ this coming week?

“Yes, probably, the whole nine yards,’’ Even said. “It’s going to be fun.’’

Martin said Glidden and Straneva complement each other well.

“It will be tough for them,’’ Martin said. “There are some things that they do very well. Lorelei sets up good shots when she’s working along the baseline, and Kate does a good job of finishing out shots near the net.’’

Straneva and Even also have a good working relationship.  They have been playing together for quite some time and did so at the Junior Team Tennis national tournament in Orlando in September. Stutz also played singles. Even earned a sportsmanship award that included the whole country.

While both players are well-rounded, Even looked good at the net and Stutz along the baseline with a strong power game. Even said she had been working with some of the Xavier coaches, having them hit higher shots toward the middle of the court while she attempted to get in position to return them.

The things that help them set the tone for the match, according to Stutz, are strong serves.

“If you get your serves in from the beginning, you have a good chance to win,’’ she said.

Softball seniors get lovely parting gift -- a win!

On senior night Friday (April 20), Xavier Prep’s softball team came up with one of its best all-around efforts of the season in a 9-1 victory over visiting Chandler High at Petznick Field.

The Gators turned around and defeated a Chandler team that had defeated Xavier 8-5 the day before on a three-run walk-off home run in the seventh inning.

With its win on Friday, Xavier is now 4-15-1 with one game remaining in the regular season – on Monday at home against Gilbert Perry.
One out to go for a big Xavier win (Photos by Sr. Lynn Winsor).
The seniors honored were outfielder Kristiann Ferreira, pitcher-infielder Mercedes Silva, catcher Jordan Bassett, pitcher-outfielder Abby Rascon and first baseman Melissa Fedorka.

During ceremonies after the game, the seniors received gift baskets and posed for photos with their families.

Xavier's five softball seniors and their families. From left, Kristiann Ferreira, Melissa Fedorka, Jordan Bassett, Abby Rascon and Mercedes Silva.

Bassett drove in three runs with a two-run home run and a double, Fedorka had a pair of doubles and an RBI, and Rascon gave up just four hits while striking out three.

Xavier scored its first two runs in the opening inning on a two-run double by freshman Macy Lee.

The Gators’ big inning was the fifth, when they scored five times.

Fedorka, Bassett and Cameron Martin each drove in a run and the other two came across on a wild pitch and a passed ball.

Bassett’s home run came in the sixth, a shot to center after Fedorka hit a double off the shortstop’s glove.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Gators seeded No. 3 in state team tennis

Xavier Prep’s tennis team will be the No. 3 seed in the Division I state team tournament that begins Tuesday (April 24).

The Gators will open with a home match, against 14th-seeded Yuma Cibola at 3 p.m. The winner will advance to the quarterfinals on May 1 against either No. 11 Tempe Corona del Sol or No. 6 Scottsdale Chaparral.

Semifinals are May 4 at Scottsdale Ranch Park and finals are May 5 at the Paseo Racquet Center in Glendale.

Defending state champion Scottsdale Desert Mountain is seeded No. 1 and Chandler Hamilton is No. 2.

The individual singles and doubles portion of the state tournament begins Friday (April 20) and continues on Saturday (April 21) at the Gene Autry Park in northeast Mesa.

Gilbert lacrosse tops Gators with big 2nd half

Xavier Prep’s club lacrosse team scored the tying goal against visiting Gilbert High less than a minute into the second half on Wednesday night (April 18), but things fell apart after that as Gilbert rolled to a 12-5 victory.

Gilbert (8-5) outscored the Gators 8-2 in the second half to defeat XCP (5-8) for the second time this season.

Now the Gators have their toughest challenge of the season, traveling to face No. 1 unbeaten Chaparral (14-0) on Thursday night (April 19). Chaparral defeated Xavier 16-4 on March 19.

Five different players scored goals for Xavier against Gilbert.

Caylie Wagner was the first, netting her team-leading 38th of the season. Kit Blouin was next, followed by Sarah Minton (25th of the season), Emma Tawney and Grace Martinez.

After facing Chaparral, Xavier will finish the regular season with two home games, against Tempe Corona del Sol on Tuesday (April 24) and against Chandler Hamilton on Wednesday (April 25).

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Near triple play for XCP softball, but Hamilton rules

Xavier Prep’s softball team on Tuesday (April 17) saw why Chandler Hamilton has won two straight Division I state championships and is a strong favorite to win a third.

Hamilton flexed its muscles, hitting four home runs, and got a solid pitching effort from freshman Loganne Stepp in a 12-1 victory at Petznick Field.

Hamilton, which also defeated the Gators 11-0 on Feb. 27, climbed to 27-1, while the Gators dropped to 3-14-2.

Hamilton scored its first run in the opening inning, but Xavier prevented more with what was the top defensive play of the game.

With no outs and runners at first and second, here is how the play unfolded . . .

Left-handed hitter Abigail Andersen hit a line drive to Gators first baseman Melissa Fedorka. She caught the ball, stepped on first for the second out and threw to shortstop Katie Donahey at second to try to catch the runner there. The throw and tag were just a fraction of a second late in the base umpire’s view – otherwise, Xavier would have had a triple play.

In the bottom of the fourth inning, Xavier cut the Huskies’ lead to 3-1 when catcher Jordan Bassett slugged a home run to center field on the first pitch she saw.

The Huskies made it 6-1 with three in the fifth and put the game out of reach with six more in the seventh.

Stepp showed she will be a force for Hamilton for quite some time, limiting the Gators to four hits in six innings while striking out 11. Katelyn Woodard worked the seventh inning.

Catcher Macy Simmons led the home run parade for Hamilton, sending two balls over the fence. Taylor Gindlesperger and Adhya Tandon also connected.

Xavier will play back-to-back games against Chandler High on Thursday (April 19) and Friday (April 20), the first at Chandler and the second at Xavier. The Gators will finish their season on Monday (April 23) with a home game against Gilbert Perry.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Gator Gabby earns spot on IU Cheer Team

Gabrielle “Gabby’’ Leier is now an Xavier Gator, but she soon will become an Indiana Hoosier!!

The senior cheerleader recently received word that she has made the Indiana University Competitive and nationally ranked Cheer Team.

She was selected from among hundreds of students and has scholarships to IU for academics.

And you just might see Leier in the Olympics one day because Cheer is now recognized as an Olympic sport. Indiana’s coaches also coach the Olympic and Team USA teams.

Congratulations, Gabby!!
Xavier's Gabby Leier.

Corona del Sol gets Gators' attention

No time is a good time to lose, but there are certain points in the season that might be better than others for such an outcome.

Take Monday (April 16), for instance.

It was the final regular season match for Xavier Prep’s beach volleyball team. The opponent was Tempe Corona del Sol, the Gators’ rivals on the sand and in traditional indoor volleyball.

The result was a 3-2 Corona del Sol victory, but if Xavier had to be saddled with a setback, this was the time and not in the Division I state tournament that begins April 24.

Losing to a team with the caliber of Corona del Sol is something that might be beneficial for the Gators, keep them on their toes, not allowing for complacency to set in.

“I was walking past Ben (Maxfield, Corona del Sol beach and indoor coach) between sets and we said, “Another barn-burner,’ ’’ said Xavier coach Tim McHale.

Each team split the first four matches, meaning that the deciding game would come down to Xavier’s Trinity Cavanaugh and Taylor Lopez and Corona del Sol’s Brooke Nuneviller and Maddy Noble.

The games were about as close as one could get. Corona won both, 23-21 and 22-20. A player such as Nuneviller is tough to stop. She was the Beach Player of the Year as a junior in 2017 and was an outstanding indoor player, headed to the University of Oregon.

“We didn’t have any major faults,’’ McHale said. “You could roll the ball out on the sand 10 times and get 10 different outcomes. Both teams are that close.’’

Now the Gators (9-2) must wait to learn where they will be seeded. They have won the state title in each of the six years the sport has been in existence in Arizona.

As of Tuesday morning (April 17), the Arizona Interscholastic Association listed Xavier as the No. 5 team, one spot ahead of Corona del Sol but behind Goodyear Millennium, Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor, Tucson Salpointe Catholic and Gilbert Perry. Xavier’s other loss was to Salpointe.

As one of the top eight seeds, Xavier would host a first-round game and, if it wins, a second-round game. Semifinals are May 1 and finals on May 3, both at Gilbert Mesquite.

Monday, April 16, 2018

XCP has two seeded doubles teams in tourney

The Division I state tennis singles and doubles tournament will begin on Friday (April 20) and continue on Saturday (April 21) at the Gene Autry Sports Complex in northeast Mesa, and Xavier Prep has two seeded doubles teams.

Both singles and doubles players could have two matches on Friday.

Sophomores Erica Stutz and Emily Even are seeded third in doubles and senior Kate Straneva and sophomore Lorelei Glidden are seeded sixth. Senior Maddy Corley will represent Xavier in the singles bracket and is not seeded.

The first-round singles matches begin on Friday at 10:30 a.m. First-round doubles begin at 1:30 p.m. Second-round singles are at 4:30 p.m., second-round doubles at 5:30 p.m.

Corley opens against Erika Garcia of Laveen Cesar Chavez. If Corley wins that one, she would move on to the second round against either Jaidyn Snitker of Chandler High or Ana Badulescu of Chandler Hamilton.

Stutz and Even will face Casa Grande Vista Grande’s Giulia Conigiu and Maria Garcia. A Xavier win would set up a match against either Elizabeth Lopez and Kimberly Magana of Glendale Copper Canyon or Caroline Eaton and Clare Hodgins of Phoenix Sunnyslope.

Straneva and Glidden will play their first match against Khanh Nguyen and Fernanda Rojas of Glendale Independence. The winner will advance to the second round and will meet either Skyllar Rose and Stephanie Liu of Mesa Dobson or Hannah Mason and Annika Reimers of Mesa Westwood.

The team portion of the state tournament will begin on April 24 at the sites of the highest seeds. Tournament seeds will be announced later this week. As of Monday morning (April 16), Xavier was listed at No. 3 behind Scottsdale Desert Mountain and Hamilton.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Xavier tennis hitting its stride, state next

Xavier Prep’s tennis team played its final regular-season home match on Thursday (April 12) in a wind so strong that seemed as if it would require the players to be tethered to a stationary object such as the chain-link fence that surrounds the Stark Tennis Center.

With a 9-0 victory over Mesa Westwood in the books, the Gators now can unleash themselves in the Division I state tournament. The individual portion of the tournament begins April 20, and the team competition begins April 24. Seedings for both events are expected to be announced soon.

Xavier finished the regular season with a 12-2 record and the No. 3 spot in the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s rankings, behind No. 1 defending champion Scottsdale Desert Mountain and No. 2 Chandler Hamilton.

“All of our kids stepped up and did a great job,’’ said Xavier coach Laurie Martin. “It seemed like we played about half our season within one two-week period, didn’t get much practice, but that evened out and we have showed a lot of improvement.’’

Martin will have to move some of her players around for the individual tournament.

No. 1 player Tristanne Dechoux has been sidelined with a nagging injury of late and likely won’t be available. That normally would mean the spot would be taken by sophomore Erica Stutz. However, Stutz is expected to team with sophomore Emily Even in doubles and senior Maddy Corley would be entered in singles.

“Erica and Emily have had a good doubles season,’’ Martin said. “They are very coachable and they want to get better.’’

Martin thinks the team title will come down to one of the top three teams or nos. 4 through 6 – Tucson Rincon University, Mesa Mountain View or Scottsdale Chaparral.

Here are the results of Xavier’s final 3 regular-season matches . . .

Xavier 6, Phoenix Desert Vista 3


Desert Vista def. Erica Stutz (score unavailable)

Desert Vista def. Emily Even 6-3, 6-4

Maddy Corley def. Desert Vista 6-1, 6-2

Lorelei Glidden def. Desert Vista 6-0, 6-4

Kate Stegman def. Desert Vista 6-1, 6-2

Emily Good def. Desert Vista 6-3, 6-4


Desert Vista def. Stutz-Even 8-6

Gildden-Kate Straneva def. Desert Vista 8-3

Corley-Stegman def. Desert Vista 8-1

Xavier 8, Tempe Corona del Sol 1


Erica Stutz def. Corona del Sol 6-4, 6-2

Corona del Sol def. Emily Even 3-6, 6-2, 8-10

Maddy Corley def. Corona del Sol 6-3, 6-0

Lorelei Glidden def. Corona del Sol 6-2, 6-2

Kate Stegman def. Corona del Sol 6-1, 6-4

Emily Good def. Corona del Sol 6-4, 3-6, 10-3


Stutz-Even def. Corona del Sol 8-5

Glidden-Straneva def. Corona del Sol (score unavailable)

Corley-Stegman def. Corona del Sol 8-5

Xavier 9, Mesa Westwood 0


Lorelei Glidden def. Westwood 6-0, 6-0

Kate Stegman def. Westwood 6-0, 6-1

Emily Good def. Westwood 6-0, 6-1

Kate Straneva def. Westwood 6-0, 6-1

Phoebe Ransco def. Westwood 6-0, 6-1

Kate Greene def. Westwood 6-0, 6-0


Glidden-Straneva def. Westwood 8-1

Stegman-Good def. Westwood 8-1

Ransco-Greene def. Westwood 8-0

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Gator softball washed away by Queen Creek

Queen Creek’s balanced hitting proved to be too much to overcome for Xavier Prep’s softball team on Wednesday (April 11) as the visiting Gators dropped an 11-1 decision in a game shortened to five innings by the 10-run rule.

Xavier fell to 3-13-2.

Queen Creek’s big inning came in the third, when the Bulldogs scored five runs on just one hit, an error and six walks. The Bulldogs also left three runners on base.

Xavier scored its lone run in the top of the fifth. Macy Lee led off with a double and came all the way around when the next hitter, Cameron Martin, hit a short fly ball to right field that got past the Queen Creek diving right fielder for a triple.

Xavier faces a big challenge next week when it plays host to two-time defending 6A champion Chandler Hamilton on Tuesday (April 17) and then has a two-game series against Chandler High on Thursday (April 19) and Friday (April 20), the first at Chandler and the second at Xavier.

Lacrosse to make up game on Friday

The Xavier club lacrosse team’s match against Phoenix Desert Vista will be played on Friday (April 13) at 6 p.m.

The contest is a make-up from a March 23 match that was due to be played in Casa Grande.

Xavier will have two matches next week, a home contest against Gilbert High on Wednesday (April 18) and a road duel against Scottsdale Chaparral on Thursday (April 19).

Beach volleyball seniors, teammates defeat 'Slope

Taylor Lopez, left center and Kailey Klein, right center, display bouquets as part of the Senior Day celebration with their Xavier beach volleyball teammates on Wednesday. The Gators defeated Sunnyslope 5-0. (Xavier photo).

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Sign in, please -- big day for our senior athletes

Xavier Prep's latest college signees: Front row, from left, Mercedes Silva, Kyle Gunzy, Jordan Bassett, Caylie Wagner. Top row, Ericka Snopko, Caroline McClelland, Alex Diaz-Infante and Lanie Wagner (Xavier photo).

All that good penmanship finally came in handy.

It allowed eight Xavier Prep senior athletes to sign college letters of intent on Wednesday (April 11).

They are volleyball’s Ericka Snopko (Cal State-Bakersfield), cross country’s Caroline McClelland (Boston College), volleyball’s Alexis Diaz-Infante (Scottsdale Community College), volleyball’s Lanie Wagner (Lipscomb, Nashville, Tenn.), softball’s Mercedes Silva (Mississippi Valley State), swimming’s Kyle Gunzy (Loyola, Baltimore), softball’s Jordan Bassett (Claremont McKenna, Calif.), and lacrosse’s Caylie Wagner (Colorado State-Pueblo).

Congrats to all of these great Gators! We know you will do us proud at the next level!

Petznick becomes water park for lacrosse

With the temperature hitting triple digits for the first time this year, Xavier Prep school officials allowed the school’s club lacrosse team and the one from Phoenix Horizon to frolic briefly under the water “cannon’’ at halftime of their match at Petznick Field on Tuesday night (April 10).

In the second half, the Gators heated right back up. They outscored the Huskies 14-0 after intermission and went on to record their season-best offensive output in a 24-3 win.

Xavier inched closer to sea level (.500), putting its record at 5-6. Horizon slipped to 3-9.

The Gators had defeated the Huskies 10-6 in a match at Horizon on March 9. Xavier coach Rachael D’Angelo expected a similar type of game in this one, but her team took control early and did not let up.

“We made our cuts (moving toward the goal without the ball) very well, and we played very well as a team,’’ D’Angelo said.

She was very pleased about the play of her two captains, Sarah Minton and Caylie Wagner.

Minton scored eight goals and Wagner six.

Wagner provided what possibly was the play of the game when she won the draw to start the second half, scooped the ball up and headed directly toward the Horizon goal, scoring in the first 11 seconds.

Additional scorers for XCP were Emma Tawney (three), Tara Kobierowski and Kit Blouin (two each) and Grace Martinez, Caroline Andreen and Nina Mackey (one each).

Goalie Tanya Barakat played well, although Horizon did not get too close to her.

“It was a nice, quiet night for her,’’ D’Angelo said.

The Gators are due to face Phoenix Desert Vista in a make-up game on Friday (April 13). Starting time has yet to be determined.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Gators back in beach volleyball groove

After a week off for Easter Break, Xavier Prep beach volleyball coach Tim McHale wasn’t completely sure what he was going to get from his team when it played host to Phoenix Arcadia on Monday (April 9).

As anticipated, the match had its competitive moments. But Xavier managed to survive on another increasingly warm day 4-1.

Xavier raised its record to 8-1.

McHale issues the same reminder to his players during and after each match – that though the No. 1 pair often controls the team destiny, it isn’t going to happen every time out, that the 2s, 3s, 4s and 5s will have to make their presence felt.

One of those instances occurred against Arcadia. The Titans’ No. 1 team played very well in its defeat of XCP, and the Gators’ other four teams came through.

“It took awhile for us to shake off the rust (after the layoff), but we managed to take care of things,’’ McHale said. “We knew Arcadia would be a strong opponent, and they gave us a good fight.’’

McHale applauded the No. 2 pair of senior Taylor Lopez and junior Shannon Shields, who won 21-12, 21-9.

And even though the No. 1 team of junior Trinity Cavanaugh and senior Kailey Klein fell in two close games, 21-17 and 21-18, McHale said they have improved greatly since the middle of the season.

“So the final result wasn’t a true indication of what they have been doing, but you can see it out there in how they play,’’ he said.

He still is assessing which girls work the best together.

“We have 16 girls who can play, and we still want to see what they can do,’’ he said.

The Gators have three matches remaining in the regular season – all at home. They are Wednesday (April 11) against Phoenix Sunnyslope, Thursday (April 12) against Gilbert Perry and April 16 against Tempe Corona del Sol.

The Sunnyslope match will be intriguing because the Vikings are in their first beach season. The school has a traditionally strong indoor program and coach Amber LeTarte leads the beach team, “so they will be another challenge for us,’’ McHale said.

Sunnyslope is ranked fifth in Division I by the Arizona Interscholastic Association, one spot ahead of the Gators. Perry is third.

The match against Perry originally was to be held on Friday, but has been moved up one day to allow players from both sides to attend a funeral service on Friday for Alex DePriest, an indoor player from Phoenix Desert Vista who played with many of the Perry and Xavier players at the club level.

Monday’s results

Xavier 4, Arcadia 1

Arcadia def. Kailey Klein-Trinity Cavanaugh 21-17, 21-18

Taylor Lopez-Shannon Shields def. Arcadia 21-12, 21-9

Lydia Rush-Analy Carbine def. Arcadia 21-18, 21-10

Lauren Lykins-Grace Lincoln def. Arcadia 17-21, 21-15, 15-4

Serena Turner-Zaira Reyes def. Arcadia 21-12, 16-21, 15-7

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Versatility main ingredient for track and field's Sims

It’s not just track. It’s not just field. It’s track and field.

And Xavier Prep junior Jada Sims has and continues to put her mark on numerous events for the Gators.

She has established automatic state qualifying times/distances in the 100-meter hurdles (15.21 seconds) and the high jump (5 feet, 5 inches) – the latter a school record. And she has provisional state qualifying efforts in two other events – the long jump (17-9 ½) and the 300-meter hurdles (48.75).

On Friday (April 6) and Saturday (April 7), she will be competing in the annual Arcadia Invitational in Arcadia, Calif. She will be entered in the high jump and the 100 hurdles. She joined some of her Xavier teammates for practice on Tuesday (April 3) and Wednesday (April 4).

Meanwhile, a large contingent of Xavier athletes will invade Arizona State’s facility on Thursday (April 5) and Saturday for the annual Sun Angel Invitational.

Sims is excited about her improvements over the season and hopes for more in the weeks leading up to the Division I state meet on May 2, 4 and 5 at Mesa Community College.

Where does Jada Sims want to finish in her events? This photo says it all. (Photo by Don Ketchum).
Sims stands 6 feet tall. Her father, Jerome, was a college basketball player (6-7) at Youngstown State in the early 1990s and her older brother, Jerome III (6-1), recently completed his senior basketball season at Brophy Prep.

She really enjoys it when she hits her stride in the hurdles and negotiates her way over the high-jump bar and lands in the big, pillowy cushion.

“I’ve been doing the hurdles for a long time and I’ve always liked them,’’ she said. “In the high jump, when you make it over, there’s no other feeling like it.’’

The thought process is part of the equation. You must stay focused when you are involved in so many events, as Sims is.

“You want to make sure you are prepared, getting ready for each event, making sure your legs have recovered from the last event and make sure you do your stretching,’’ she said.

Having the proper footwork on the approaches in the high jump and long jump is essential.

Sims achieves a rarity of sorts with those events. She takes off from her left foot in the high jump and her right foot in the long jump.

She is thankful for the assistance she receives from the Xavier event coaches as well as the support of her family. Sometimes her dad will tape her meets and they will sit down and go over the results.

Although her senior year is a year away, Sims already is starting to think about reaching her goal of competing in college. She knows that academics also are a key factor. She said she has a 4.0 grade-point average at XCP. She is taking an advanced computer science course and is aiming toward that area to pursue at the next level.

“I enjoy all of it,’’ she said. “I know that track and field might be considered as individual sports by some people, but there is a lot of team things that are involved. It’s fun to be out here working with my teammates.’’