Bio

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 AIA365.com, the web site of the Arizona Interscholastic Association.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Three Gators finish off year with AIA honors

Friday (May 17) was another great day for a couple of recent Xavier Prep graduates and one who will follow in their footsteps next year.

Seniors Shannon Shields and Renee Pierson and junior Abby Converse were honored by the Arizona Interscholastic Association at its annual Champions Luncheon at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, home of the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals.
Xavier Prep had three outstanding student-athletes honored at the recent Arizona Interscholastic Association's Champions Luncheon. They are, from left, Shannon Shields, Abby Converse and Renee Pierson. (Photo courtesy of Sr. Lynn Winsor).
Shields, who helped XCP win state championships in indoor and beach volleyball during the last school year, was recognized as a Scholar-Athlete Award Finalist. She will begin attending and playing indoor this fall at the University of Louisville.

Pierson, a member of the Gators’ highly regarded Spiritline, was a Scholar-Activity Award Finalist. She will be moving on to the University of Notre Dame.

Converse, who also played indoor and beach volleyball, was presented with the Student Leadership Award. She was Xavier’s representative on the AIA’s Student Leadership Committee, and has committed to attend and play for Virginia Commonwealth University in the fall of 2020.

Congratulations to these honorees. You have made Xavier proud!!

Friday, May 17, 2019

Two Xavier tennis players honored by azcentral.com

A pair of Xavier Prep tennis aces have been recognized by the azcentral.com media outlet on its top list of postseason players in 2019.

Senior Tristanne Dechoux is listed as an All-Arizona Player and one of eight Player of the Year candidates. Junior Erica Stutz was chosen as an Honorable Mention selection.

Both players were instrumental in Xavier claiming the Division I state title for the first time since 2015.

Players of the Year in all sports and the All-Arizona teams will be honored at the fourth annual azcentral Sports Awards Show on June 9 at Arizona State’s Grady Gammage Memorial Auditorium. The event will begin at 7 p.m.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Fun No. 1 goal at XCP summer sports camps

Xavier Prep’s athletic facilities will be plenty busy through most of June with the school’s annual summer camps.

Instruction and competition will be held in the following sports:

Tennis (tentative, June 3-7), volleyball (June 3-6 and June 17-20), badminton (June 10-14), softball (June 10-13), basketball (June 17-21) and beach volleyball (June 17-20). Tennis and beach volleyball are tentative at this point, and the number of registrants will determine if the camp will be held.

Age (grade) groups for the various sports: Badminton (6th through 9th), basketball (5th through 9th), softball (5th through 8th), tennis (5th through 9th), volleyball (separate sessions for 9th, 7th and 8th and 5th and 6th), and beach volleyball (6th through 9th). Times for the sessions vary, with most in the morning.

Camp features will include one-on-one instruction with coaches, new students, current and past player participation, emphasis on fundamentals taught and reviewed, skills put into action in team competition, and emphasis on learning and understanding offensive and defensive team strategy.

Camp fees are $125 per person and are non-refundable.  A medical release section is part of the registration form that is on the Xavier Web site, www.xcp.org. Deadline is May 20. And for more information, contact Susan Contreras via e-mail in the XCP athletic office at scontreras@xcp.org.

Let the fun begin, and good luck to all !!

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Xavier softball came a long way this spring

After struggling in 2017 and 2018, Xavier Prep brought in Brad Downes to coach the softball team, which featured a talented group of underclassmen in 2019.

Together, they brought the Gators to contending status in the 6A Conference before dropping a 3-2 decision to Mesa Red Mountain in a loser’s bracket elimination game on Wednesday night (May 8) at the Rose Mofford Sports Complex in north Phoenix.

Xavier was a combined 12-32 in 2017 and 2018. The Gators were the 23rd seed in 2018, losing a “play-in’’ state tournament game to Tucson High. Then came a huge jump in 2019, going all the way to the No. 4 seed and finishing at 17-5.

“The girls worked really hard,’’ Downes said after the loss to Red Mountain, which also defeated XCP, 13-11, on March 1.

“We came in with a new coaching staff (including assistants Deryk Sexton and Maddie Johnson). We listened to what they (players) wanted to get out of the program and they listened to what we wanted. We created a brand-new landscape.’’

The season brought a few twists and turns, but not nearly as many as one might expect from such a young team. The Gators came out hitting and hitting and hitting, providing freshman pitcher Riley Flynn with a secure cushion most of the time.

Third-seeded Red Mountain (23-6) had stolen six bases in the earlier win over Xavier, so is seemed logical for one to surmise that the Mountain Lions would use the same tactic if given the chance in this one.

Red Mountain would waste no time in that endeavor.

Center fielder Michelle Anderson led off the bottom of the first inning with an infield hit to second base, using her speed to cross the first-base in plenty of time to beat the throw from Meghan Schouten after Schouten had backhanded the ball. It certainly helped that Anderson had a few extra steps as a left-handed hitter.

In the blink of an eye, Anderson took off, stealing second and later third. Another grounder to second, this one by Makayla Donahoo, allowed Anderson to score.

Red Mountain got its other two runs in the third. A groundout to shortstop by Donahoo accounted for one and a single by Kayden Bullock the other.

Xavier began a comeback in the top of the fourth. Freshman shortstop Bridget Donahey, who this season established herself as one of the state’s top young players, ripped a leadoff home run to left. A strong wind that was blowing in from center field earlier in the contest had subsided somewhat, giving Donahey’s shot a chance to cut through the air.

It was interesting, given that Donahey popped out to shortstop to end the previous inning. But on that play, it was ruled that a Xavier baserunner had left first base too early, allowing Donahey to return to the batter’s box in the fourth.

Donahey figured again in a Gator run in the sixth that cut the deficit to 3-2. She singled to left with one out, her third hit of the game, and eventually came around on a single just inside the left-field line by catcher Macy Lee.

Lee’s hit, combined with a walk to third baseman Jazmyn Andrade, led to both advancing to third and second, respectively. An aggressive Red Mountain attempt to apprehend Andrade at third on Lee’s hit was not successful as the potential tying and go-ahead runs were oh so close with only one out.

But Red Mountain freshman pitcher Taylor Trowbridge escaped, retiring outfielder Cameron Martin on a foul to third and getting Flynn on a fly to deep center. Trowbridge had a gutty effort in the circle after a hard shot by Andrade in the first skipped off the pitcher’s lower leg.

Trowbridge breezed through the top of the seventh with a foul pop to the catcher, a strikeout and a fly to right.

“It was a tight game and we had our opportunities, but we had too many pop-ups,’’ Downes said. “It was a credit to their pitcher. She was good.

“We were close. We are a good young team that had some success and we are expecting to build on it.’’

Red Mountain moves on to play No. 7 Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor on Friday night (May 10) in a semifinal game. A victory by Sandra Day O’Connor had sent Red Mountain to the loser’s bracket with a win on Tuesday night (May 7).

The other semifinal will match top-seeded, defending champion Phoenix Pinnacle against No. 12 Tucson, which defeated No. 6 Yuma Cibola in the other loser’s bracket elimination game on Wednesday night.

The state championship game will be played on Monday (May 13) at 7:45 p.m. at Arizona State’s Farrington Stadium.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Beach pairs event not so kind to Xavier players

The two Xavier Prep entries in the beach volleyball 6A Conference pairs state tournament did not find their attempts to be as profitable as they were in last week’s 6A team tournament.

Shannon Shields and Trinity Cavanaugh and Abby Converse and Serena Turner, who helped the Gators win the state championship against Gilbert Perry, were out in the first day of pairs competition on Tuesday (May 7) at Casteel High in Queen Creek.

In the first round, Shields and Cavanaugh, seeded fourth, won by default over Phoenix Sunnyslope’s  Jazmyn Wheeler and Maddie Shepston. Shortly therafter in the quarterfinal, Shields and Cavanaugh fell to fifth-seeded Taryn Ames and Brooke Blutreich of Phoenix Desert Vista, 2-0.

Converse and Turner stumbled out of the gate, dropping their first-round match 2-0 to Chandler Basha’s Haley Carrington and Sam Drewry.

Action continues Thursday (May 9) with semifinals and finals at Casteel.

Monday, May 6, 2019

XCP seniors to begin journey at U.S. Naval Academy

On Aug. 8, 1975, the U.S. Congress authorized women to be able to attend military service academies.

From that point, it was full steam ahead for candidates hoping to receive an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. In 1980, the USNA had 81 women graduates for the first time, and Elizabeth Anne Belzer was the first.

Flash forward to 2023, when the list of female graduates is expected to be between 300 and 400 out of a total of about 1,200. And two 2019 graduates from Xavier College Preparatory are planning to be a part of that group that will toss its hats into the air.

Alyssa Largay and Eve Worden received appointments from Arizona’s Congressional delegation that led to a presentation from a Naval officer at the recent XCP Awards Assembly.
Xavier seniors Alyssa Largay, left, and Eve Worden, right, flank U.S. Navy Lt. Commander Michael Lanin after receiving their appointments to the U.S. Naval Academy (Photo by Don Ketchum).
It is quite an accomplishment for one graduate to head to Annapolis, but to have two from the same school in the same year earn such an honor is all the more impressive.

“I have been doing this (interacting with appointees) for about four years now, and it is very rare to have two in one cycle (graduation),’’ said Lt. Commander Michael Lanin, looking sharp in his dress whites. “We know these young women have worked hard to get to this point, but there is a lot of work ahead.’’

Largay and Worden will be participating in intercollegiate athletics at the USNA, Largay as a diver and Worden as a golfer.

They will report to Annapolis, near Washington D.C. and Baltimore, Md., on the shore of Chesapeake Bay, on June 27. That’s when their lives will change forever, beginning with the annual Plebe (freshman) Summer, consisting of seven weeks of initiation and training.

The USNA Web site tells these newbies to be ready.

“By the time you throw your hat into the air at graduation, you are fully prepared to be a leader of competence, character, compassion and ready to take on the world.’’

In return for their commitment, the Midshipmen receive room and board, a modest monthly stipend, and medical and dental care. At graduation, they must begin five years of active duty in the U.S. Navy or U.S. Marine Corps.

“It is a big level of commitment for us. I have always wanted to be able to serve my country,’’ said Largay.

Said Worden: “I am extremely excited but there is a lot of nervousness. I think it is going to be a great journey.’’

Largay’s appointment came from the office of Arizona Congressman David Schweikert and Worden’s came from former Arizona Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema, before she became a U.S. Senator.

Largay’s patriotism stems in part from her time as an intern in the office of late Arizona Senator John McCain.

“He told me a lot about the U.S. Naval Academy (McCain was a graduate) and that always stuck in my mind as something I would like to try,’’ she said.

Worden has a family history of graduates from military academies. Her maternal grandfather graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y.

The girls had sisters who were athletes at Xavier and went on to prestigious collegiate institutions.

Kristen Largay (volleyball) went to American University in Washington, D.C., and Lily Worden (golf) went to Amherst College in Amherst, Mass.

Family support in general, particularly from parents, has been crucial through the process.

Alyssa Largay and Eve Worden said many of the things they learned at Xavier will be a part of the success they will achieve at the USNA.

“I learned a lot about time management, communication and good leadership skills,’’ Largay said.

“Being associated with clubs and organizations, just interacting with all of the students will be very helpful,’’ Worden said.

And don’t forget Xavier sports.

“It helps your resume all the way around,’’ Largay said.

“It is going to be pretty crazy, but it will be really exciting,’’ Worden said.

Soon, the young women’s music playlists will feature Anchors Aweigh.


U.S. Naval Academy facts and figures

Source: USNA Web site

What is needed for a candidate to be appointed . . .

1 – Confirm eligibility. 2 – Preliminary application. 3 – Apply for nomination. 4 – College entrance exams. 5 – Grade transcript. 6 – Medical exam. 7 – Fitness Assessment. 8 – Interview with Blue/Gold officer. 8 – Keep track of all deadlines.

Make sure to prepare for the tough weekday schedule . . .

5:30 a.m. – Arise for personal fitness workout (optional). 6:30 a.m. – Reveille (all hands out of bed). 6:30-7 a.m. – Special introduction period for Plebes (freshmen). 7:15 a.m. – Morning meal. 7:55-11:45 a.m. – Four class periods, 50 minutes each. 12:10 p.m. – Noon meal. 12:50-1:20 p.m. – Company training time. 1:20-3:30 p.m. – Fifth and sixth class periods. 3:45-6 p.m. – Varsity and intramural athletics. Personal activities, drills and parades twice weekly in the fall and spring. 6:30-7:15 p.m. – Evening meal. 8-11 p.m. – Study period. Midnight – Taps for all Midshipmen.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Gator track & field finishes 8th in D-I meet

Xavier Prep’s track and field team scored points in eight events on the way to an eighth-place finish in the 2019 Division I state meet on March 1 and Saturday (March 4) at Mesa Community College.

The Gators finished with 30 points, and perennial power Chandler High won again with 189.

Senior Jada Sims and junior Mia Olsen each scored points in two events.

Sims was second in the long jump (18-6 ¼) and fifth in the 100-meter hurdles (15.10).

Olsen was fifth in the 3,200-meter run (11:11.55) and sixth in the 1,600-meter run (5:13.88).

Other point-producers for XCP were junior Sophie Brohard in the 400-meter run (57.55), sophomore Jamie Stelnik in the 3,200 (11:22.29) and a pair of relay teams. Xavier was third in the 4x400 (3:56.76) and sixth in the 4x800 (9:51.72).

Congratulations to these athletes and their Gator teammates for a job well done this season !! Also to head coach Dave Van Sickle and his staff of assistants – Alex Bishop, Claire Dalman, Shaun Fitzgerald, Eden Higgins, Vito Perrone and Ryan Regula.

Four Xavier lacrosse players are All-Stars

Four Xavier Prep lacrosse players have been named recipients of Arizona Girls Lacrosse Association (AGLA) All-Star awards for 2019 and will play in the annual All-Star Game.

They are seniors Grace Martinez and Sarah Minton and juniors Nina Mackey and Grace Haak.

The Gators will play in the AGLA All-Star Game on Friday (May 10) at the Copper Ridge School at 10101 E. Thompson Peak Parkway in north Scottsdale. Start time is 7 p.m.

Congratulations, Xavier All-Stars !!

Also, a thank you to head coach Jen Nevatt and assistant Clayton Zuba.

Gator tennis title wraps up "crazy weekend''

Asked her reaction after she helped Xavier Prep earn its first tennis title since 2015 and 19th overall with a 5-0 win over Chandler Hamilton in the Division I finals on Saturday (May 4), junior Erica Stutz said, “It’s been kind of a crazy weekend.’’

Yes, when craziness in sports is the topic of conversation, tennis usually is far down the list. It is pretty calm by comparison.

But this was a rare occasion, at least in the state tournament.

Two-time defending state champion Scottsdale Desert Mountain, the top seed, was forced to forfeit by the Arizona Interscholastic Association after its semifinal win over Hamilton on Friday (May 3) due to a rules infraction in regard to its lineup.

That put No. 4 Hamilton in the title match against No. 2 Xavier, and the Gators coasted at the Paseo Racquet Center in Glendale as they did against the Huskies, 9-0, on April 11.

Xavier finished the season 17-0.

The Gators got victories from players 2 through 6 in their lineup. They were, in order, Stutz, freshman Ryan Kershner, junior Lorelei Glidden, senior Kate Stegman and sophomore Emilia Chrostowski. No. 1 player Tristanne Dechoux was still playing her match when the title was decided. No doubles matches were necessary.

“We (coaches) are really proud of the girls,’’ said Xavier coach Laurie Martin. “They were extremely close the whole season. They fought for each other, and you don’t always see that in tennis.’’

Martin was assisted by Ann Coover, Amy Gallo, Wendy McDaniel, Ford Oliver and Joy Rodey.

If it were not for a victory rally against Scottsdale Chaparral 5-4 in the semifinals, the Gators would not have been here. They were down 0-3 before coming back.

“That semi was one of the best matches I’ve ever been a part of,’’ Martin said.

When Kershner came in as a freshman, she wasn’t really sure what to expect. She knew of Xavier’s outstanding history, but she couldn’t really comprehend what being a part of it would be like.

“I’m really happy to help us win in my freshman year. Not everyone is able to do that, to have that chance,’’ she said.

She will have three more chances to put her fingerprints on a championship trophy. More good, young players also will join the program and the cycle of excellence will continue.

Division I championship

Xavier Prep 5, Hamilton 0

Singles

No. 1 – Tristanne Dechoux, X, did not finish against Shivika Agrawal, H. No. 2 – Erica Stutz, X, def. Nidhi Pulicherla, H, 6-0, 6-0. No. 3 – Ryan Kershner, X, def. Hannah Szoke, H, 6-0, 6-0. No. 4 – Lorelei Glidden, X, def. Sophia Reltano, H, 6-1, 6-3. No. 5 – Kate Stegman, X, def. Katie Dussault, H, 6-1, 6-0. No. 6 – Emilia Chrostowski, X, def. Nisha Kalmadi, H, 6-3, 6-1.

XCP softball wins, remains in state tournament

Xavier Prep’s softball team could not find the right magic in the early going of its 6A Conference state tournament elimination game on Saturday IMay 4) against Scottsdale Chaparral at the Rose Mofford Sports Complex in north Phoenix.

Three groundouts to third base, one to shortstop in the first four innings as the contest remained scoreless.

Finally, Gator freshman Riley Flynn broke the seal with her team’s first hit as she led off the bottom of the fifth with a single through the hole between third and short.

She later came home to score on a throwing error during a sacrifice bunt play by Elliot Smith, and Smith scored on a double by Meghan Schouten to give fourth-seeded Xavier all it would need in a 2-0 triumph over the No. 9 Firebirds.

Flynn also had a crucial effort in the pitching circle, giving up just one hit.

Xavier (17-4) will play again at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday (May 8) at Rose Mofford against the loser of a Tuesday night (May 7) winner’s bracket game between No. 3 Mesa Red Mountain and No. 7 Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor.

“We were getting no-hit until that point (Flynn’s hit),’’ said Xavier coach Brad Downes. “We weren’t getting the good swings that we needed (against Chaparral freshman pitcher Sashi Sakai). We were getting jammed. So we had to play some small ball (with two sacrifices).’’

Flynn had some pitching trouble early on, issuing three of her four walks on the game, “but then she got dialed in a little better,’’ Downes said. “Her rise ball wasn’t really working, but she had a good drop and some good curves.’’

A 9-7 upset loss to No. 12 Tucson in the second round allowed reality to set in for the Gators, according to Downes.

“They are a competitive group and they have the belief they will be able to continue to play and do a lot,’’ he said.



Friday, May 3, 2019

Another rally for Xavier, this time in tennis

There’s something about comebacks for some of Xavier Prep’s spring sports teams in 2019.

The softball team rallied from a 5-0 deficit for a win in its state tournament opener and the beach volleyball team staged a monumental comeback to win the Division I state championship on Thursday night (May 2).

The latest XCP team to battle back from a significant deficit was the tennis team, which overcame an 0-3 deficit to defeat Scottsdale Chaparral 5-4 in a 4 ½-hour Division I semifinal on Friday (May 3) at Scottsdale Ranch Park.

Second-seeded Xavier (16-0), winner of 18 state crowns (the last in 2015) advances to Saturday’s (May 4) title match at the Paseo Racquet Center in Glendale. Play begins at 5 p.m.

A jackrabbit jogged across a walkway at Scottsdale Ranch, and perhaps one of the rabbit’s feet was a lucky sign for Xavier.

Xavier rallied from its 0-3 deficit for a 4-3 lead on wins by No. 1 singles player Tristanne Dechoux, No. 3 Ryan Kershner, No. 6 Emilia Chrostowski and the doubles team of Erica Stutz and Ryan Kershner.

After that doubles win, Xavier needed to win one of the last two doubles matches and third-seeded Chaparral needed to win both.

Chaparral won one, against the No. 2 doubles team of Dechoux and Lorelei Glidden, but the No. 3 team of Kate Stegman and Chrostowski pulled through to decide the match.

It was an interesting turn of events, considering Xavier easily defeated Chaparral 8-1 on March 21.

“It was a great comeback. Our girls played their hearts out,’’ said Xavier coach Laurie Martin. “Despite the last time we played them, when the match was not as lopsided as the score might indicate, we knew they would be tough. They are a great team.’’


Xavier semifinal result

Xavier Prep 5, Chaparral 4


Friday, at Scottsdale Ranch Park

Singles

No. 1 – Tristanne Dechoux, X, def. Gabi Moss, C, 5-7, 6-3, 6-2. No. 2 – Mattie Wang, C, def. Erica Stutz, X, 6-3, 6-4. No. 3 – Ryan Kershner, X, def. Analise Wachtel, C, 7-5, 6-4. No. 4 – Cassie Seminoff, C, def. Lorelei Glidden, X, 6-2, 6-2. No. 5 – Erin Hannen, C, def. Kate Stegman, X, 6-3, 6-2. No. 6 – Emilia Chrostowski, X, def. Anna Ramsook, C, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.

Doubles

No. 1 – Stutz-Kershner, X, def. Wang-Wachtel, C, 8-1. No. 2 – G. Moss-Seminoff, C, def. Dechoux-Glidden, X, 8-5. No. 3 – Stegman-E. Chrostowski, X, def. Hannen--Katrina Moss, C, 8-6.

Gators rise from depths to claim 7th beach crown

Somehow, some way, Xavier Prep’s Gators got the job done.

They won the Division I state beach volleyball championship for the seventh time in eight tries on Thursday night (May 2) at Casteel High in Queen Creek, defeating Gilbert Perry 3-2 in a battle between the top two seeds.

That’s the way it should be.

It almost didn’t happen.

Xavier’s No. 5 duo of Analy Carbine and Katie Anthony won, the No. 4 team of Grace Lincoln and Shea Sciarappo  lost, as did the No. 3 team of Lydia Rush and Tori Burton.

Shift to the No. 2 match between Xavier’s Abby Converse and Serena Turner, who faced Perry’s Morgan Mann and Matea Suan. Xavier won the first game 21-19 and was trounced in the second game 21-7. That meant that all the Perry team had to do was win the third game and the title would be theirs, winning three matches as a team.

Converse and Turner held firm and won 15-7, putting the match even at 2-2 with the No. 1’s, Xavier seniors Trinity Cavanaugh and Shannon Shields and Perry’s Erin Myers and Noelle Weintraub, going after the big prize.

Perry won the first game, 21-18, Xavier the second, 21-17. One last race to 15 points in the third game, winner take all.

Cavanaugh and Shields maintained their composure and won Game 3, 15-8, allowing the Gators to atone for a loss to Perry in last year’s quarterfinals, before Perry went on to earn the title.

This time, the Gators were able to climb back to the top.

They finished 15-0, Perry 14-2, with both losses to Xavier.


Xavier's Gators are back as the beach volleyball state champs!! (Photo by Don Ketchum).
“It was a great ride,’’ said Xavier coach Tim McHale, who was assisted by Kristen Jones.

He gathered the players together before the title trophy was presented and said, “I am unbelievably proud of this team. Everybody thought we were dead tonight, but we dodged the Grim Reaper.’’

He acknowledged that Converse and Turner had the most important win of the night.

“If they don’t come back and win that, Shannon and Trinity would not have had the chance to do what they did,’’ he said.

Said Shields, “That win by the No. 2’s motivated us. Before our game, we (Shields and Cavanaugh) talked about just going out and having fun, giving it everything we had and not worrying about making mistakes.’’

Shields also won an indoor volleyball title for Xavier in the fall. Which was better?

She grimaced a bit, then smiled and said, “Ooh, don’t ask me that question. The two titles are equally amazing.’’

McHale called the win “really rewarding. This match could have gone either way.’’

Cavanaugh said that taking the trophy “was a total team win. We worked hard all year and we weren’t about to quit. That is our sand mentality.’’

Shields and Cavanaugh and Converse and Turner will be back at Casteel next week, starting on Tuesday (May 7) for the pairs tournament. Shields and Cavanaugh are seeded No. 4.

Upset by Tucson sends XCP to elimination bracket

Xavier Prep’s softball team rallied for a win over Queen Creek on Tuesday (April 30) in the first round of the 6A Conference state tournament.

But the fourth-seeded Gators could not continue the magic on Thursday (May 2) as 12th-seeded Tucson High posted its second upset in a row 9-7. The Badgers upset No. 5 Gilbert Perry 4-1 in the first round.

Tucson advances in the winner’s bracket now that the tournament has shifted to a double-elimination format. The Badgers will face defending champion Phoenix Pinnacle, the No. 1 seed, on Tuesday night (May 7) at the Rose Mofford Sports Complex in north Phoenix.

Xavier (16-4), meanwhile, will play an elimination game on Saturday at 1 p.m. against No. 9 Scottsdale Chaparral, which lost to Pinnacle. Xavier defeated Chaparral 11-0 on March 5.

Tucson led 7-5 after the top of the fifth but the Gators managed to tie it at 7-7 in the bottom half of the inning. Tucson then scored the decisive runs in the top of the sixth.

Xavier had seven hits, including two home runs by freshman shortstop Bridget Donahey, who drove in four runs. Tucson had 14 hits, three by Alyssa Carpio.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Gators triumph, advance to beach title match

Nearly a month ago, on March 6, as darkness descended on Xavier Prep’s Cavanaugh Courts, Xavier and Gilbert Perry squared off in a state title-type beach volleyball match.

Xavier managed to pull out a 3-2 victory, but one couldn’t help but get the feeling that these two would meet again in the Division I state tournament.

That day, or in this case, night, will arrive on Thursday (May 2) when top-seeded Xavier and No. 2 Perry vie for the state championship at Casteel High in Queen Creek (east on Ivy Street off Power Road) at 7 p.m.

Xavier won the state title in the first six years of the sport in Arizona before Perry ended that streak last year in the quarterfinals and went on to win the whole thing.

Xavier is 14-0 after defeating No. 5 Goodyear Millennium 4-1 in Tuesday night’s (May 2) semifinals at Casteel, while Perry is 14-1 after stopping No. 3 Tempe Corona del Sol 3-2 in its semi.

The Gators secured the match with victories by its Nos. 5, 4 and 2 pairs. The No. 3 team fell before the No. 1 team of Trinity Cavanaugh and Shannon Shields took the spotlight in center sand and took Millennium to three sets before winning it in the third set, 18-16.

Xavier results

Division I semifinals

No. 5 – Analy Carbine-Katie Anthony def. Millenium, 21-9, 21-16. No. 4 – Shea Sciarappo-Grace Lincoln def. Millennium, 21-12, 21-8. No. 3 – Millennium def. Lydia Rush-Tori Burton, 26-24, 21-17. No. 2 – Abby Converse-Serena Turner def. Millennium, 21-15, 21-18. No. 1 – Trinity Cavanaugh-Shannon Shields def. Millennium, 23-25, 21-17, 18-16.

Softball rallies from 5-run deficit to win 7-5

There is practice speed. There is regular-season speed. And there is playoff speed.

In order for a team, in this case, a softball team, to keep playing, it must figure out how to shift gears and play at a higher level.

Xavier Prep’s fourth-seeded Gators did that on Tuesday (April 30), but it didn’t start out that way in a 6A Conference state tournament game against No. 13 Queen Creek at XCP’s Petznick Field.

The Gators allowed the Bulldogs to score the first five runs of the game for a 5-0 lead in the second inning, then came back for two runs in the third and five in the fourth and held on for a 7-5 victory.

The tournament now shifts to a double-elimination format, and Xavier (16-3) plays another home game in the “A” bracket on Thursday (May 2) at 4 p.m. against No. 12 Tucson High, which posted a big 4-1 upset of No. 5 Perry in Gilbert on Tuesday.

A year ago, Tucson defeated Xavier in a “play-in’’ game, preventing the Gators from reaching the state tournament.

So now it’s a new ballgame, with Xavier undergoing a major overhaul with an infusion of promising young talent, particularly at the freshman level.

Pitcher Riley Flynn is among that group, and she has performed well all season. Against Queen Creek, however, she struggled in the early going.

Xavier coach Brad Downes looked out at the scoreboard to see his team’s deficit. While that might have concerned some coaches, he said it did not bother him.

“I wasn’t really worried,’’ he said. “It had been more than two weeks (April 12) since we last played a game (against Chandler High). We had been swinging the bats well in practice, but there is a different speed between that and a regular game, and now a playoff game like this.

“The same thing applies to Riley’s pitching. You saw that today. She started out trying to get a feel for things, and we saw her improve and get stronger as the game went on.’’

Flynn gave up five runs on five hits in the second inning, including a three-run home run by Jaylei Brechler, but surrendered just two hits after that. She also maintained her composure despite being called for illegal pitches a few times by the umpires.

In the third, Xavier had two runners on base with two outs after a single by Katie Donahey and a double by Jazmin Andrade off the first baseman’s glove. Flynn then hit a tapper back to the circle for what appeared would be an inning-ending out, but the pitcher threw the ball very low over to first and it went for an error, allowing both runs to score.

That gave the Gators new life, and they took the lead in the fourth. Run-scoring hits by Cameron Martin, Meghan Schouten, Andrade and Flynn would prove to be the difference.

If Xavier defeats Tucson, it would advance to the next round on Tuesday (May 7) at the Rose Mofford Sports Complex in north Phoenix (7:30 p.m.) against either top-seeded, defending state champion Phoenix Pinnacle or No. 9 Scottsdale Chaparral. Pinnacle is coached by former Xavier coach Bobby Pena.

If Xavier loses to Tucson, it would go to the loser’s bracket at Rose Mofford on Saturday (May 4) at 1 p.m. against Pinnacle or Chaparral.

Xavier tennis defeats Horizon in quarters


Xavier Prep’s second-seeded tennis team won its quarterfinal match against No. 7 Phoenix Horizon 5-0 on Tuesday (April 30).

Xavier (16-0) moves on to the semifinals on Friday (May 3) against third-seeded Scottsdale Chaparral at Scottsdale Ranch Park. Start time is noon. The winner will advance to Saturday’s (May 4) championship match at the Paseo Racquet Center in Glendale. Start time is 5 p.m.

Xavier results

No. 1 – Tristanne Dechoux, X, def. Horizon, 6-1, 6-2; No. 2 – Erica Stutz, X, did not finish after losing first set, 6-4. No. 3 – Ryan Kershner, X, def. Horizon, 6-0, 6-0. No. 4 – Lorelei Glidden, X, def. Horizon, 6-1, 6-1. No. 5 – Kate Stegman, X, def. Horizon, 6-0, 6-1. No. 6 – Emilia Chrostowski, X, def. Horizon, 6-0, 6-0.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Gillom joins Mercury, yet remains as Gators' coach

The pillar of Xavier Prep’s basketball program is remaining firmly in place.

Jennifer Gillom, who just finished the second year of her second tour of duty as the Gators’ head coach, will remain here after taking a job as a player development coach with the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, for whom she played from 1997-2002.

The situation afforded her an opportunity to work at both jobs. Gillom has a 185-36 record at Xavier from 2004-09 and 2017-18 and 2018-19, finishing as 6A Conference state runner-up the last two seasons with a 55-11 mark.


Jennifer Gillom (Xavier photo).
Gillom is happy to be able to do both.

She also has been a head coach in the WNBA, for the Minnesota Lynx and Los Angeles Sparks and has been a coach with the U.S. Olympic Team. She won Gold Medals as a player and an assistant coach.

“I have always enjoyed working in player development, helping the young players,’’ she said Monday (April 29). “I’ll be around (the Mercury) a lot, maybe at some games, but I won’t be traveling.

“There is also something very rewarding to continue to be here at Xavier. It means a lot to be here. I have invested a lot in this program. I can continue to work on fulfilling our goal of winning a state championship.

“Xavier is a great school to be a part of and I plan to retire here.’’

She will continue to lead the Xavier team in the Thunderbird (High) Summer League in north Phoenix – the Gators won their division in 2018.

“And before you know it, a new (regular) season will be here,’’ she said.

Xavier athletic director Sr. Lynn Winsor said she was contacted by the team and Gillom about the dual roles.

“It (Mercury job) will basically be a few hours a week working with post players,’’ Winsor said. “She told me that it won’t interfere with what she is doing for us. I am excited for her.

“She has done a tremendous job for us. She has a great coaching style and you can tell by the way she treats the players. She teaches them to work hard but still have fun. She has a great attitude, great sportsmanship and the kids are the same way.’’

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Title chances evaporate for singles, doubles

What began as a blue sky full of possibilities on Saturday (April 27) ended up in a pile of rubble for Xavier Prep tennis.

The Gators had participants in the Division I state singles and doubles competition in the quarterfinals and semifinals with the hopes of advancing to title matches on Monday night (April 29) at Arizona State’s Whiteman Tennis Center.

Senior Tristanne Dechoux, the No. 2 seed in singles, won her quarterfinal match against Chandler Hamilton’s seventh-seeded Shivika Agrawal, 6-0, 6-2, but hours later found herself on the wrong side of a 6-3, 6-7, 2-6 score in the semifinals against Scottsdale Desert Mountain’s third-seeded Savanna Kollock.

There is a good reason why Desert Mountain is the two-time defending state champion and the top seed in the team tournament – with players like Kollock and top-seeded teammate Josie Frazier, who will play for the singles title at ASU.

And the day almost ended before it began for Xavier’s third-seeded doubles team of junior Erica Stutz and freshman Ryan Kershner. They were battling Phoenix Pinnacle’s Elizabeth Vijan and Ava Kester and trailing 5-4 in the first set of their quarterfinal when Stutz developed a migraine headache and could not continue, giving the match to Pinnacle.

An unfortunate turn of events, indeed.

Dechoux looked strong in her first semifinal set, then things began to unravel. Dechoux was so upset about the loss in the second set that she had to take additional time to compose herself before starting the third set in temperatures that hovered in the mid-to-upper 90s. Kollock continued to apply the pressure and completed the task.

Team tennis – Xavier’s second-seeded team will host a quarterfinal match on Tuesday (April 30) against No. 7 Phoenix Horizon. Start time is 3 p.m.

The winner will advance to the semifinals on Friday (May 3) starting at noon at Scottsdale Ranch Park.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Xavier lacrosse loses grip, falls to Hamilton

Whether it’s sharpening their fingernails or perhaps something else, the Xavier Prep club lacrosse team needs to get a better grip to achieve more success.

The Gators put a lot of effort into a season that ended on Friday night’s (April 26) Senior Night at Petznick Field with an 8-7 loss to Chandler Hamilton in overtime. The team, which finished at 5-9, needs to find a way to win those close games.

Five of the Gators’ losses were by just one goal, and a sixth by two.

Against Hamilton, which they had defeated 9-7 in an earlier match on April 5, the Gators had a 7-5 lead in the second half, but saw that evaporate. Hamilton (7-7) forced the contest into overtime and won it with 55 seconds left in the first three-minute extra session.

“It has been the story of our season,’’ said Xavier coach Jen Nevatt. “We have had a lot of close games.

“We had a lot of talent with our underclassmen, and hopefully they will be able to keep their skills sharp going into next season. There are some club programs and some colleges that have clinics. We also will need to have mental and physical endurance.’’

She will be sorry to see the current group of seniors move on.

“They played with so much heart this year. They will be missed next year,’’ she said.

At the top of that list are Grace Martinez and Sarah Minton, who scored two goals apiece. Junior Caroline Andreen also scored twice and the other goal was by junior Nina Mackey.

With a win on Friday night, Xavier could have claimed the sixth and final playoff spot in the 10-team Arizona Girls Lacrosse Association, but Hamilton will get that instead. Scottsdale Chaparral and Phoenix Pinnacle are the top two seeds and earn first-round byes. Hamilton is expected to play No. 3 Scottsdale Notre Dame Prep in the first round and No. 5 Tempe Corona del Sol likely will face No. 4 Phoenix Desert Vista.

Gator tennis players pass initial state test

Xavier’s two entries in the Division I state tennis singles and doubles tournament remain alive after second-round victories on Friday (April 26).

Senior singles player Tristanne Dechoux, the No. 2 seed, had received a first-round bye and defeated Chandler Hamilton’s Nidhi Pulicherla 6-1, 6-1 in her second-round match at the Gene Autry Sports Complex in east Mesa.

The third-seeded XCP doubles team of junior Erica Stutz and freshman Ryan Kershner also had a first-round bye and defeated Anthem Boulder Creek’s Taylor Kyle and Darlene Maitern 6-0, 6-1 in the second round.

The tournament shifts to the Paseo Racquet Center in Glendale for Saturday’s (April 27) quarterfinals and semifinals. Championship matches will be held on Monday night (April 29) at Arizona State’s Whiteman Tennis Center in Tempe.

Singles and doubles quarterfinals have check-in at 1 p.m., with the matches to follow shortly thereafter. Semifinals are at 4:30 p.m.

Dechoux will face another Hamilton player in the quarters, No. 7 seed Shivika Agrawal. If she reaches the semis, Dechoux would meet either No. 3 Savannah Kollock of Scottsdale Desert Mountain or No. 6 Tanri Nerendran of Tucson Rincon.

Stutz and Kershner will play No. 6 Elizabeth Vijan and Ava Kester of Phoenix Pinnacle in the quarters. The winner will move on to the semis against either No. 2 Hailey Stelson and McKenna Koenig of Desert Mountain or unseeded Sophia Reitano and Katie Dussault of Hamilton.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Young Gators are good enough for No. 4 seed

A truly remarkable season continues next week for Xavier Prep’s softball team when the Gators host a first-round 6A Conference state tournament game on Tuesday (April 30).

This season has been remarkable because Xavier struggled through a 4-16 season in 2018 and now is 15-3. The Gators were the 23rd seed but fell to host Tucson High in the last year’s “play-in’’ round, but on Thursday (April 25) were announced by the Arizona Interscholastic Association as the No. 4 seed in 6A behind Phoenix Pinnacle, Chandler Hamilton and Mesa Red Mountain.

In the first round, Xavier will face No. 13 seed Queen Creek, which is riding a bit of momentum of its own. The Bulldogs were tied with No. 20 seed Mesa Westwood in a play-in game on Wednesday (April 24), but darkness halted the contest and the teams had to return on Thursday. Queen Creek escaped with a 7-6 victory in nine innings.

If Xavier defeats Queen Creek, it would face a big challenge in the second round on May 2. The Gators would host the winner of a first-round game between No. 12 Tucson High and No. 5 Gilbert Perry.

Xavier and Perry played twice during the regular season and split two games. Perry won the first meeting at Xavier 5-4, and when the teams played at Perry a few days later, Xavier returned the favor and won on Perry’s field, 14-6.

Xavier features a lineup of talented underclassmen, led by pitcher Riley Flynn, shortstop Bridget Donahey, infielder Megan Schouten (all freshmen) and sophomore catcher Macy Lee.

Brad Downes took over as head coach this season, and is assisted by Maddison Johnson and Derek Sexton.

The first two rounds of the state tournament are single-elimination, with a shift to a double-elimination competition thereafter.


6A Conference state tournament

First round, at site of highest seed

(Seedings in parentheses)

Tuesday, April 30

All games, 4 p.m., unless noted.

A Bracket: Tolleson High (16) at Phoenix Pinnacle (1), Scottsdale Chaparral (9) at Surprise Shadow Ridge (8), Tucson High (12) at Gilbert Perry (5), Queen Creek (13) at Xavier Prep (4).

B Bracket: Mesa Desert Ridge (15) at Chandler Hamilton (2), Tempe Corona del Sol (10) at Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor (7), Phoenix Mountain Pointe (11) at Yuma Cibola (6), Phoenix Desert Vista (14) at Mesa Red Mountain (3), 7 p.m.

Second round, at site of highest seed

Thursday, May 2

All games, 4 p.m.

A Bracket: Tolleson-Pinnacle winner vs. Chaparral-Shadow Ridge winner, Tucson-Perry winner vs. Queen Creek-Xavier Prep winner.

B Bracket: Desert Ridge-Hamilton winner vs. Corona del Sol-Sandra Day O’Connor winner, Mountain Pointe-Cibola winner vs. Desert Vista-Red Mountain winner.

Track & field has productive tune-up before state

Xavier Prep finished a solid third out of 18 track and field teams in the annual Northeast Valley Championships that wrapped up on Wednesday (April 24) at Phoenix Horizon.

The Gators earned 87 points, just three behind second-place Phoenix Pinnacle. Phoenix North Canyon scored a comfortable 152 points to win it.

It was the final tune-up for the Division I state meet, which will be held May 1 and May 4 at Mesa Community College.

Xavier had four individual winners – Senior Jada Sims in the high jump and long jump, Sophomore Sophie Brohard in the 400 meters and Junior Mia Olsen in the 3,200 meters.

Olson also finished second in the 1,600, Sims finished third in the 100-meter hurdles and fourth in the 300-meter hurdles. Sophomore Jamie Stelnik finished second in the 3,200 and Xavier’s 400-meter and 800-meter relay teams finished second.


Northeast Valley Championships

Xavier results

400-meter run – Sophie Brohard, Jr., 1st (57.11).

800-meter run – Karina Hawkins, Sr., 10th (2:25.59).

1,600-meter run – Mia Olsen, Jr., 2nd (5:14.45), Jamie Stelnik, So., 6th (5:18.62), Sammy Braun, So., 9th (5:29.06), Brooke Bream, So., 11th (5:36.79).

3,200-meter run – Mia Olsen, Jr., 1st (11:20.46), Jamie Stelnik, So., 2nd (11:21.87), Ansley Burns, Fr., 10th (12:24.62), Grace Valandra, Jr., 15th (12:41.15).

100-meter hurdles – Jada Sims, Sr., 3rd (15.26).

300-meter hurdles – Jada Sims, Sr., 4th (45.86), Leila Grant, Sr., 8th (49.42).

400-meter relay – Xavier Prep 2nd (4:06.33). Johnnie Mitchell, Maria Benitez, Sophie Brohard, Karina Hawkins.

800-meter relay – Xavier Prep 2nd (9:58.44). Sophie Brohard, Maria Benitez, Sammy Braun, Karina Hawkins.

Shot put – Janna Hynds, Sr., 17th (27-7 ½), Jozlin Tanner, So., 19th (27-4 ½), Kendall Swanson, Jr., 23rd (25-7).

Discus – Janna Hynds, Sr., 17th (78-11), Maeve Jones, Sr., 20th (76-3), Bethany Barnwell, So., 24th (66-9).

Javelin – Bethany Barnwell, So., 18th (70-1), Maddy Skrovan, Jr., 20th (69-9), Janna Hynds, Sr., 22nd (67-10).

High jump – Jada Sims, Sr., 1st (5-6), Ellie Higgins, Fr., 13th (4-6), Sofi Valencia, Fr., 13th (4-6).

Pole vault – Macy Kerwin, So., 10th (7-6).

Long jump – Jada Sims, Sr., 1st (17-11), Sofi Valencia, Fr., 12th (15-3 ¼).

Beach volleyball moves on to state semis

Xavier Prep’s beach volleyball team played a Division I state tournament match for the second straight day on Wednesday (April 24), and the Gators emerged victorious in a quarterfinal pairing at XCP’s Cavanaugh Courts.

Top-seeded Xavier defeated ninth-seeded Buckeye Verrado 4-1 to advance to Tuesday’s (April 30) semifinal against fifth-seeded Goodyear Millennium at Queen Creek Casteel High (Power and Riggs roads). First serve is at 7 p.m.

Defending champion Gilbert Perry, the second seed, will square off against No. 3 Tempe Corona del Sol in the other semifinal, also at Casteel.

In the 2017 Division I title match, Xavier defeated Millennium to claim its sixth title in the history of the sport in Arizona before falling to Perry in the 2018 quarterfinals.

Against Verrado, Xavier (13-0) got two-set victories from its No. 5, No. 3, No. 2 and No. 1 teams, while its No. 4 duo fell in three sets.

The No. 5 team of Analy Carbine and Katie Anthony picked up a 21-8, 21-6 victory. The No. 4 team of Shea Sciarappo and Grace Lincoln won their first match, 21-17, but fell in the next two, 21-18 and 15-10.

The No. 3 pairing of Lydia Rush and Tori Burton won, 21-17 and 21-14. The No. 2 team of Abby Converse and Serena Turner won, 21-13 and 21-11, with Converse providing the exclamation point with a service ace to the back corner, just inside the line.

And the No. 1 team of Trinity Cavanaugh and Shannon Shields rolled to a 21-10, 21-11 triumph, with a kill by Shields between two opponents in the middle of the court securing the second set and the overall match.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

"One round at a time' for XCP tennis

Xavier Prep’s approach in the Division I state team tennis tournament is simple.

“One round at a time, one team at a time,’’ said Gators coach Laurie Martin.

The second-seeded Gators took care of the first one on Tuesday (April 23) with a 5-0 win over visiting 15th-seeded Surprise Shadow Ridge to highlight Senior Day.

With the individual singles and doubles brackets looming on Friday (April 26) and Saturday (April 27), the team portion of the tournament won’t resume until April 30. That is when the Gators will host a quarterfinal match against seventh-seeded Phoenix Horizon.

Xavier (15-0) played Horizon on March 14 at XCP and won 8-1.

Xavier did not need to dip into doubles play against Shadow Ridge, and got singles victories from seeds 2 through 6.

They were No. 2 Erica Stutz (6-1, 6-0), No. 3 Ryan Kershner (6-0, 6-2), No. 4 Lorelei Glidden (6-0, 6-0), No. 5 Kate Stegman (6-1, 6-0), and No. 6 Emilia Chrostowski (6-0, 6-0). No. 1 player Tristanne Dechoux was still playing her contest when the outcome of the match had been decided, so she did not need to finish.

Martin said some of her players practiced over the recent spring break while others chose to relax.

“So we came out today, looked good and did what we needed to do. Now it’s on to the next phase,’’ she said.

Note -- Dechoux will be the No. 2 seed in singles when individual play begins on Friday at Gene Autry Park in east Mesa (McKellips near Greenfield). Stutz and Kershner will be the third-seeded doubles team.

The Xavier players will receive a first-round bye. If they win their second-round matches, they would advance to Saturday’s action, which will feature quarterfinal and semifinal rounds at the Paseo Racquet Center in Glendale (63rd Ave. and Thunderbird).

Xavier athletes will be all over the map

Wednesday (April 24) was another great day for Xavier Prep athletes.

The Gators had eight girls sign national letters of intent to study and play at seven schools across the country and one international institution, in St. Andrews, Scotland.

They were golf’s Tristaanne Dechoux (University of New Orleans, will study psychology), track and cross country’s Helen Innes (University of St. Andrews, Scotland, international relations), lacrosse’s Grace Martinez  (University of Colorado/Colorado Springs, business), soccer’s Katelynn McGee (University of Hawaii/Hilo, pre-law), volleyball’s Hayley Nash (College of Wooster, Ohio, architecture),  basketball’s Paris Rasheed-Moore (College of St. Benedict, St. Joseph, Minn., biochemistry), tennis’ Samantha Salim (Arizona Christian University, biology), and golf’s Eve Worden (U.S. Naval Academy, political science).

Congratulations to all of these outstanding student-athletes !!

Gators get first-round win in state beach v-ball

Xavier Prep’s beach volleyball team appears to be ready for the challenge in the Division I state tournament.

The top-seeded Gators looked strong and efficient against No. 16 Scottsdale Chaparral, earning a 5-0 victory onk Tuesday (April 23) at XCP’s Cavanaugh Courts.

Xavier (12-0) has a quick turnaround on Wednesday (April 24) with a quarterfinal match at home against No. 9 seed Buckeye Verrado. Start time is 4:30 p.m.

The winner will advance to the D-I semifinals on April 30 at 7 p.m. at Queen Creek Casteel.

Tuesday’s first-round results

No. 5 – Analy Carbine-Katie Anthony def. Chaparral, 21-7, 21-6. No. 4 – Shea Sciarappo-Grace Lincoln def. Chaparral, 21-8, 17-21, 15-12. No. 3 – Lydia Rush-Tori Burton def. Chaparral, 21-14, 21-6. No. 2 – Serena Turner-Abby Conrad def. Chaparral, 21-16, 21-15. No. 1 – Shannon Shields-Trinity Cavanaugh def. Chaparral, 21-14, 21-12.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Dechoux, Stutz-Kershner get tennis byes


Sandwiched in between rounds 1 and 2 of the Division I state team tennis tournament is state competition involving the top singles and doubles players.

In the singles and doubles event that begins Friday (April 26) at the Gene Autry Sports Complex in east Mesa, Xavier received first-round byes for its two teams.

Xavier’s hope in singles rides with senior Tristanne Dechoux, with the No. 2 seed. She will play her first match on Friday at 1:30 p.m. against the winner of an earlier first-round match between Nidhi Pulicherla of Chandler Hamilton and Natalie Esparza of Goodyear Millennium.

The Gators’ doubles team will be junior Erica Stutz and freshman Ryan Kershner, who have the No. 3 seed. They will take the court at 1:30 p.m. against the winner of an earlier match between Anthem Boulder Creek’s Taylor Kile and Darlene Maitem and Marana’s Aubrey Oldham and Brinley Miller.

Friday’s second-round winners will move on to Saturday’s (April 27) quarterfinals at the Paseo Racquet Center in Glendale. Quarterfinals are at 1:30 p.m. and semifinals are at 4:30 p.m.

Championship matches will be held Monday (April 29) at a site to be determined.

The first round of the Division I team tennis tournament will be held on Tuesday (April 23) with the second round held on April 30. Xavier, the No. 2 seed, will host No. 15 Surprise Shadow Ridge in the first round at 3 p.m.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Gators get No. 1 seed in beach volleyball

Numero uno. You can’t get much better than that.

A No. 1 seeding in the state tournament, puts you in a position to run the table, and that is what Xavier Prep would like to do, starting on Tuesday (April 23) as the top Division I beach volleyball seed as the Arizona Interscholastic Association released its tournament brackets for divisions I and II on Friday (April 19).

Xavier, which won the state championship in the first six years of the sport in Arizona before falling in the early rounds last season, has an 11-0 record and will host the 16th-seeded team, Scottsdale Chaparral, at the Cavanaugh Courts.

Xavier defeated Chaparral 4-1 in Scottsdale on March 22.

If the Gators win again in the first round of the single-elimination tournament, they would host a quarterfinal match on Wednesday (April 24) against the winner of a first-round match between No. 9 Buckeye Verrado and No. 8 Queen Creek Casteel at Casteel. The state semifinals and finals also will be at Casteel.

Including Chaparral, Xavier has defeated seven of the tournament’s 16 teams.


Division I beach volleyball state tournament bracket

First round, April 23 – All matches at 4:30 p.m.

(Seedings in parentheses)

Scottsdale Chaparral (16) at Xavier Prep (1), Buckeye Verrado (9) at Queen Creek Casteel (8), Phoenix Desert Vista (12) at Goodyear Millennium (5), Chandler Hamilton (13) at Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor (4), Phoenix Mountain Pointe (14) at Tempe Corona del Sol (3), Glendale Deer Valley (11) at Phoenix Sunnyslope (6), Oro Valley Ironwood Ridge (10) at Anthem Boulder Creek (7), Gilbert High (15) at Gilbert Perry (2).


Quarterfinals, April 24 – All matches at 4:30 p.m.

(Matches at higher seed)

Chaparral-Xavier Prep winner vs. Verrado-Casteel winner, Desert Vista-Millennium winner vs. Hamilton-Sandra Day O’Connor winner, Mountain Pointe-Corona del Sol winner vs. Deer Valley-Sunnyslope winner, Ironwood Ridge-Boulder Creek winner vs. Gilbert High-Perry winner.


Semifinals, April 30 at Queen Creek Casteel – Both matches at 7 p.m.


Finals, May 2 at Casteel --  7 p.m.




Thursday, April 18, 2019

Tennis No. 2 seed at state; Beach learns fate soon

One Xavier spring sports team has learned its state tournament seeding and another will find out where it will begin the postseason on Friday (April 19).

The tennis team will be the No. 2 seed behind two-time defending state champion Scottsdale Desert Mountain when the Division I team tournament begins on Tuesday (April 23) at seeds 1 through 8.

The individual singles and doubles portion of the tournament will begin on April 26, and the teams will return to second-round action on April 30.

Xavier will open play against 15th-seeded Surprise Shadow Ridge. If Xavier wins that one, it would host a second-round match against the winner of a first-round match between No. 10 Anthem Boulder Creek and No. 7 Phoenix Horizon.

Beach volleyball has a strong chance to be the top seed when the Arizona Interscholastic Association announces its Division I pairings on Friday at noon (live stream).

Xavier (11-0) won six of the first seven beach state titles. The Gators will host a first-round match at Cavanaugh Courts on Tuesday (April 23) at 4:30 p.m. If Xavier wins, it would host a quarterfinal match on Wednesday (April 24).


Division I girls tennis

First-round pairings

Seedings in parentheses – All matches are April 23 at 3 p.m.

Phoenix Central (16) at Scottsdale Desert Mountain (1), Phoenix Pinnacle (9) at Tempe Corona del Sol (8), Mesa Mountain View (12) at Tucson Rincon (5), Peoria Centennial (13) at Chandler Hamilton (4), Yuma Cibola (14) at Scottsdale Chaparral (3), Phoenix Desert Vista (11) at Gilbert Perry (6), Anthem Boulder Creek (10) at Phoenix Horizon (7), Surprise Shadow Ridge (15) at Xavier Prep (2).

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Softball's Bridget Donahey earns Player of Week

Last week was a big week for Xavier Prep softball player Bridget Donahey and people certainly noticed.

The Arizona Prep Spotlight TV program has selected the freshman shortstop as its Softball Player of the Week for her efforts in the first game of a two-game series against Chandler High’s Wolves.

In the game at Xavier’s Petznick Field on April 11, Donahey hit a solo home run to get things going for the Gators. After seeing Chandler rally for a lead late in the game, Xavier tied it in the bottom of the seventh and won it in the ninth as Donahey hit a shot down the third-base line off the third baseman’s glove to drive in Meghan Schouten with the game-winner.

Congratulations, Bridget, and may you and the Gators continue to display your magic in the upcoming 6A Conference state tournament !!

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Beach v-ball could get top seed at state

After stumbling in the quarterfinals while making a bid to win their seventh straight Division I beach volleyball crown last season, Xavier Prep’s Gators are back on course as they attempt to reclaim what they feel is rightfully theirs – the state title trophy.

On Friday (April 12), they completed the first step toward that goal – an unbeaten regular season – with a 5-0 win over Phoenix Mountain Pointe at Kiwanis Park in Tempe.

Now the 11-0 Gators will wait for the Arizona Interscholastic Association to put together its state tournament brackets, likely around Easter weekend. Xavier sits atop the power-points rankings with Gilbert Perry No. 2. Xavier fell to Perry in last year’s quarterfinals but came back to defeat the Pumas earlier this season.

Xavier will hold a couple of practices early next week, which is during the school’s Spring Break, then “recharge,’’ according to coach Tim McHale, before resuming practices leading up to the state tournament opener on April 23. A handful of the girls will be involved with club volleyball activities next week.

McHale said he took a cautious approach to facing Mountain Pointe, “because they are very athletic, well-coached and can sneak up on you.’’

In one of the first matches of the day, Mountain Pointe proved to be a challenge for the Gators.

Xavier’s No. 5 pair of Zaira Reyes and Katie Anthony took the first game 21-8, but Mountain Pointe recovered to earn a 21-19 win in Game 2. Xavier won the decisive Game 3, 15-10.

On the court next door, the No. 4 duo of Grace Lincoln and Shea Sciarappo defeated the Pride by nearly identical 21-15 and 21-16 scores.

At No. 3 were Analy Carbine and Tori Burton, who triumphed 21-8 and 21-12. Carbine, a junior, continues her late-season rise after being sidelined early with an illness. McHale said he can plug her into the lineup at almost any spot and still get a quality effort.

Next was the No. 2 combo of Abby Converse and Serena Turner. They won, 21-5 and 21-17, and are good enough to be No. 1 on many teams, particularly with Turner using her height advantage (the sophomore is 6-1) to keep opponents on their heels with blocks.

And in the top spot are seniors Trinity Cavanaugh and Shannon Shields. They use their agility and all-out effort to reach the ball where some others can’t. They wrapped up the match with a 21-16, 21-16 victory.

XCP softball gives that something extra again

Thursday night’s (April 11) softball game between Xavier Prep and Chandler High was such a good one, lasting nine innings, the teams must have figured they would play more extra innings  on Friday (April 12).

The result was the same, as Xavier won its second straight with a 6-4 triumph in eight innings, leaving the Gators with a 15-3 record at the end of the regular season.

The Gators should be able to get a bit of rest during Spring Break next week, then begin practice in preparation for their first-round 6A Conference state tournament game on April 30. Xavier is expected to have a home game in the first round and possibly the second.

Xavier continues to hit the ball with authority. The team put 14 hits on the board in Friday’s win, with freshman infielder Meghan Schouten and sophomore catcher Macy Lee hitting home runs.

Sisters Katie and Bridget Donahey combined for eight of Xavier’s hits. Katie Donahey’s effort included a double.

The eighth inning was set up by two Xavier runs in the top of the seventh and a run by Chandler in the bottom of the seventh to tie it.

Freshman Riley Flynn pitched the win for Xavier. She pitched all 17 innings for the Gators in the two games against Chandler.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Winning rally saves Senior Night softball

Everybody was hyped up for softball’s Senior Night on Thursday night (April 11), and there was never a dull moment when Xavier Prep and Chandler High met at Petznick Field.

Xavier took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on a home run by freshman shortstop Bridget Donahey, led 3-1 before Chandler rallied and took the lead, then battled back to tie it in the bottom of the seventh and won it 5-4 on a hit by Donahey in the bottom of the ninth as the contest went extra innings.

Xavier (14-3) maintained its hold on the No. 6 spot in the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s power rankings, while Chandler fell to 11-12. Xavier will finish its regular season on Friday (April 12) when it faces Chandler again, this time at Chandler.

Seniors Ashee Sanchez, Cara Coffman, Analisa Roman, Marisa Sgambati and Kylie Rodgers were honored following the game, and the five presented roses to Chandler senior players before the game.

It was a special night for Rodgers, who threw the ceremonial first pitch. A pitcher early in her career at Xavier, she survived a courageous battle with cancer and is serving as the team manager this season.

Donahey’s homer was her 10th of the season.

Chandler tied it in the top of the fourth on a double, an infield hit and an error.

Hits by Cameron Martin and Elliot Smith gave Xavier a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the fourth. Chandler tied it again in the fifth on a two-run homer by Lilly Saucedo. A solo shot to center in the sixth by Brianna Williams, who served as the Wolves’ second pitcher of the night, gave Chandler a 4-3 lead.

Xavier was on the verge of tying it in the bottom of the sixth when catcher Macy Lee hit a triple to right to lead off, but the courtesy runner was stranded at third as Williams recorded three straight outs.

Gators freshman pitcher Riley Flynn got into the action in the seventh with an RBI double that scored Meghan Schouten. The hit went into the gap between left and center and appeared it also would score Donahey, who had been walked intentionally, with the winning run, but the hit was ruled a ground-rule double.

Flynn escaped a jam in the top of the eighth, leaving the bases loaded.

In the decisive ninth, Schouten led off with a solid single to left and was sacrificed to second by Donahey’s older sister, Katie. Bridget Donahey hit a hot smash down the third-base line that went off the defender’s glove in fair territory and landed down the line in foul ground.

Xavier coach Brad Downes, coaching at third, waved his arm around like a windmill for Schouten to keep going and she reached the plate with plenty of time to beat the throw.

Never a dull moment for these Gators.

It's on to state tennis tourney for 14-0 Gators

Xavier Prep’s had another big finish to its regular season on Thursday (April 11).

The Gators earned their 14th victory without a loss with a 9-0 defeat of host Chandler Hamilton.

As of Friday morning (April 12), Xavier was the No. 2-rated team behind two-time defending champion Scottsdale Desert Mountain in the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s Division I power-points rankings.

Xavier will begin the team portion of the state tournament on April 23 with a home match against an opponent to be determined. There will be a week-long gap between the first and second rounds, with the second rounds being played on April 30.

Individual singles and doubles will begin on April 26. The first two rounds will be at Gene Autry Park in east Mesa. Quarterfinals and semifinals are April 27 at the Paseo Racquet Center in Glendale. Finals will be held at a site to be determined on April 29.


Xavier results

Xavier Prep 9, Hamilton 0

Singles

Erica Stutz, X, def. Shivika Agrawal, H, 6-4, 6-3; Ryan Kershner, X, def. Nidhi Pulicherla, H, 6-0, 6-0; Lorelei Glidden, X, def. Hannah Szoke, H, 6-0, 6-0; Kate Stegman, X, def. Sophia Reitano, H, 6-2, 2-6 (10-5); Emilia Chrostowski, X, def. Katie Dussault, H, 6-3, 6-4; Victoria Chrostowski, X, def. Nisha Kalmadi, H, 6-4, 6-1.

Doubles

Kershner-Stutz, X, def. Pulicherla-Agrawal, H, 8-4; V. Chrostowski-Glidden, X, def. Szoke-Kalmadi, H, 8-1; Stegman-E. Chrostowski, X, def. Reitano-Dussault, H, 8-3.




Top-rated Pinnacle too much for Gator lacrosse

Xavier Prep’s club lacrosse team is going to have to figure out how to turn things around in its final two games of the regular season.

On Thursday night (April 11), the Gators traveled to face Phoenix Pinnacle, the top team in the Arizona Girls Lacrosse Association, and came away with their third straight loss 14-3.

Xavier is now 5-7, Pinnacle 11-1.

Xavier will have next week off for Spring Break, then play its final two regular-season matches, on April 24 at Scottsdale Chaparral and April 25 at home against Chandler Hamilton.


Thursday, April 11, 2019

Beach volleyball wins, lacrosse drops close one

Xavier Prep’s beach volleyball and club lacrosse teams were in action on Wednesday (April 10).

The beach team raised its record to 10-0 with a 5-0 victory over Scottsdale Desert Mountain at Horizon Park in Scottsdale.

The Gators will wrap up their regular season on Friday (April 12) with a match against Phoenix Mountain Pointe at Kiwanis Park in Tempe. Start time is 4 p.m.

Lacrosse, meanwhile, suffered its second close loss in a row with a 7-6 setback to Scottsdale Notre Dame Prep at Petznick Field. Xavier, now 5-6, travels to meet the Arizona Girls Lacrosse Association’s No. 1 team, Phoenix Pinnacle, on Thursday night (April 11). Start time is 7 p.m.


Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Xavier bats turn on the power, pop Perry

Redemption on the softball field is a dish best served with a heaping helping of home runs.

That approach worked very well for Xavier Prep’s Gators on Tuesday (April 9) with a 14-6 road victory over host Gilbert Perry, a game in which they bashed four home runs and accounted for 21 hits in total.

Just four days earlier, on April 5, Perry had escaped with a 5-4 win over the Gators at Xavier.

With Tuesday’s win, Xavier had hoped to climb out of the No. 6 spot on the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s 6A Conference power-points list. That likely would have enabled XCP to have secured a better spot in the upcoming state tournament with one and perhaps two home games in the first two rounds.

But the latest numbers apparently did not justify any upward movement, and Xavier (13-3, 4-2 in Premier Region play) remained at No. 6 when the latest rankings appeared on Wednesday morning (April 10). Perry, on the other hand, was another story. The Pumas (15-6, 4-2) dropped from the No. 2 spot to No. 5, just ahead of the Gators.

So now Xavier has a home-and-home Premier Region series with Chandler High to wrap up the regular season. The first game is on Thursday night (April 11) at Petznick Field, and the later 6 p.m. start will allow XCP to pay tribute to its seniors on Senior Night. The second will be at Chandler on Friday (April 12) with a 4 p.m. start.

The first Xavier-Perry game featured a good pitchers’ duel between Xavier freshman Riley Flynn and Perry senior Saige Stutz. Fans hoped for a similar battle on Tuesday, but it did not materialize.

Xavier locked in on Stutz early and often, scoring six runs on seven hits in the first inning. The highlight was a three-run homer by sophomore catcher Macy Lee. The wind was blowing out all afternoon, but Lee’s shot did not need much help as the ball caromed off the big metal scoreboard behind the center field fence.

Junior Cameron Martin was next to circle the bases with one swing. That came with one out in the third inning to right-center. The third came when freshman second baseman Megan Schouten led off the fourth with a blast to right. And the fourth was a laser line drive to center for a three-run homer by freshman shortstop Bridget Donahey in the fifth that gave Xavier a 13-0 lead.

Stutz lasted just 3 1/3 innings, giving up 10 runs on 11 hits with four strikeouts. Perry used three pitchers on the day.

“We had a good day of practice (on Monday) and we talked a lot about what their pitcher (Stutz) does,’’ said Xavier coach Brad Downes. “We know she likes to work ahead in the count, so we wanted to be more aggressive early (in the count). We swung the bats real well.’’

Bridget Donahey collected five hits and hit for the cycle in the process. Martin had four hits and Sydney Johnson and Lee had three (Lee had five RBIs).

It looked like it might be a short day for Flynn. Had she set down the Pumas with little difficulty in the fifth, the game would have been shortened due to the 10-run rule. But Perry bounced back a bit, keeping things alive with four runs in the fifth, another run in the sixth and another in the seventh.

Five of the runs came on three home runs, including two by senior Kylee Hough. She might be the state’s best power hitter, maybe best hitter, period. She also hit a home run in last week’s game at Xavier and had another recent two-homer game.

Flynn gave up six runs on nine hits and three walks, with nine strikeouts.

“They (Perry) got onto her late in the game. It was kind of a hot day out there and they are a good-hitting team,’’ Downes said.