DON KETCHUM is a native of Phoenix. He was a sportswriter for The Arizona Republic/The Phoenix Gazette for nearly four 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.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

XCP softball looks strong in season opener

The first game of a new season always seems to bring its share of uncertainty. How will a team fare and how much will the first performance set the tone for the rest of the season?
For Xavier, all systems are go after an 11-0 win over Peoria Centennial on Thursday (Feb. 26) in the first round of the Peoria Unified School District Tournament at Pioneer Park in Peoria.
The Gators were scheduled to play two more games on Friday’s (Feb. 27) second day, at 10 a.m. vs. Peoria Sunrise Mountain and at noon against Yuma Kofa.
Xavier scored four runs against Centennial in the top of the first inning and never looked back.
Gators coach Bobby Pena is very optimistic about the chances for his team to go a long way. The Gators were ranked fourth among Division I teams by in the preseason.
“We’ve had two very good weeks of practice and our practice yesterday (Wednesday) was the best of all. It was phenomenal. We are capable of being that good, and I usually don’t say things like that,’’ said Pena.
He believes the team has a good balance of pitching, hitting and defense.
“When the hitters and the defense support the pitching, you have a good chance,’’ he said.
Juniors Caitlin Dickman and Emily Richards combined to limit Centennial to six hits. And the defense was strong, with senior catcher Emily Jordan throwing out a pair of baserunners.

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