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.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Xavier softball rolls to victory over Mtn. View

Xavier’s softball team just keeps on rolling.
The Gators, No. 3 among Division I teams in’s Division I rankings, coasted to an 11-0 victory in six innings over visiting Mesa Mountain View on Tuesday (March 31).
Xavier (16-4) scored in every inning but one.
Junior pitcher Caitlyn Dickman gave up just two hits and never was seriously threatened. Mountain View did not have a runner reach second base.
Shortstop Becky Ducar had two hits, including a two-run single in the second inning, and second baseman Mallory Belknap put the win on ice with a two-run single in the sixth. Xavier also got help from four Mountain View errors.
The Gators wrap up the pre-Easter portion of their schedule on Wednesday (April 1) with a road game at Mesa Skyline.
Skyline is 11-8 and coached by former Arizona State and Phoenix Paradise Valley player Annie Lockwood.

Varsity lacrosse rallies past Hamilton in OT

Things did not look good for Xavier’s lacrosse team as the scoreboard clock dipped below the two-minute mark in the second half of regulation in the Gators’ match against visiting Chandler Hamilton on Monday night (March 30) at Petznick Field.
The Gators appeared to be a bit sluggish offensively most of the night, but some of that had to do with Hamilton’s “Mary Had A Little Lamb’’ defense. Everywhere that Xavier went, the Huskies were sure to go.
Xavier was trailing 8-6 with 1:39 left on the contest when the Gators awakened. Kayla Swanson scored to make it 8-7, and only 16 seconds later, senior leader Areta Buness took matters into her own hands when she sprinted more than half the length of the field and scored for an 8-8 tie.
It was time for overtime. Two three-minute “halves’’ and if the score was tied after that, a “sudden victory’’ period.
Swanson scored her fourth goal of the match with 1:33 left in the first “half,’’ then scored again as time expired in the second “half’’ to secure a 10-8 Xavier victory.
It was second overtime match this season, for the Gators, who are 8-1. They defeated Phoenix Pinnacle 19-18 in the season opener.
“It was hard for us to hold onto possession some of the time because they (Hamilton) played good defense,’’ said XCP coach Caitlin Bebout.
The coach said the Gators had some good passing during “the final stall,’’ designed to keep the ball away from Hamilton. Goalie Michelle Valenzuela also contributed to that by gloving shots and running behind the goal to allow her teammates to get set up and pass the ball off to them.
“We calmed down and that made the difference,’’ Bebout said.
“We also have some girls who do well under pressure and two of them (Swanson and Buness) showed that tonight.’’
The Gators now will be able to enjoy some time off during Spring Break next week and then gear up for a rematch at home against Scottsdale Chaparral on April 13 at 7 p.m. Chaparral is the only team to defeat XCP this season.

JV White team wins lacrosse debate

There was a bit of debate going back and forth between XCP’s two junior-varsity lacrosse teams, the Blue and the White, in the days leading up to their game on Monday night (March 30) at Petznick Field.
“We all practice together,’’ said White coach Rachel D’Angelo.
It stood to reason that each team knew the other’s strengths and weaknesses going in, but it turned out to be a remarkably competitive contest.
The Blue scored a couple of goals to take the early lead, but the White came back to establish itself and went on to post a 14-9 victory.
Megan Lawless scored six goals for the White, and Ashley Martin was the Blue’s top scorer with two.
“We were excited to play, but we didn’t want to get too excited and overdo things,’’ D’Angelo said. “We worked hard on our passing game and I would say our communication out on the field was excellent.’’

Monday, March 30, 2015

7 XCP lacrosse players join Ariz. team at nationals

Seven lacrosse players from Xavier Prep have been named to a team that will represent Arizona in the U.S. Lacrosse national team tournament at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania on May 23-24.
The Xavier players are members of the varsity team and are underclassmen.
They are juniors Katie Russell and Madeline Whissell and sophomores Caitlin Blomo, Katie Hobaica, Bella Johnson, Arden Schraff and Kayla Swanson.
Phoenix Pinnacle had four players selected, followed by Scottsdale Chaparral (four), Glendale Ironwood, Gilbert, Phoenix Desert Vista, Chandler Prep and Phoenix Barry Goldwater (all one each).

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Gators use big rally in 6th to stun Desert Mtn.

Wait for it . . .
And . . . done.
Xavier’s softball team had to be patient when it faced visiting Scottsdale Desert Mountain at Petznick Field on Thursday (March 26).
The Gators trailed the Wolves 5-3 entering the bottom of the sixth inning. Catcher Cheyann Tucker had hit a pair of home runs to account for all of the Desert Mountain scoring.
But Xavier erupted for seven runs in the sixth to win going away 10-5.
The Gators raised their record to 15-4, while Desert Mountain dropped to 9-9.
Xavier got a two-run single from eventual winning pitcher Caitlyn Dickman and a two-run ground-rule double from Becky Ducar to highlight its outburst.
Sam Sydenham had two hits in the inning and starting pitcher Emily Richards put down a nice bunt in front of the plate that resulted in a Desert Mountain throwing error to set up the big inning.
Annamarie Hartman also scored a big run when she got caught in a rundown between third and home and managed to escape the attempted tag by Tucker at the plate.
Tucker had been a thorn in the Gators’ side most of the day, and Xavier coach Bobby Pena he admitted he was starting to get a bit impatient waiting for his bats to come around in the fourth inning.
The Gators went down quietly in that inning and wasted a one-out triple by Megan Donahey in the fifth as Desert Mountain held a 5-3 lead.
“When we got to the sixth inning, I said, “We have two more at-bats (to tie it),’ ’’ Xavier coach Bobby Pena said.
“We are a good-hitting team and I felt that at the very least we could score one in the sixth and then tie it up in the seventh. Things opened up for us in the sixth.’’
Richards and Dickman have been sharing the pitching duties most of the season, usually alternating as the starter with the other entering the game later in relief if needed.
Richards struggled a bit in the early going and Pena went to Dickman in the sixth. Dickman retired the side in order in both the sixth and seventh.
Xavier returns to action on Tuesday (March 31) with a home game against Mesa Mountain View. First pitch is at 3:45 p.m.

Mixing, matching works for sand volleyball

As much as they would like their teams to breeze through every match, coaches know that isn’t a realistic approach. They know that somewhere along the way, the team will face obstacles.
Xavier sand volleyball coach Tim McHale encountered that on Wednesday (March 25) when the Gators faced Gilbert Highland at Gene Autry Park in east Mesa.
He had a handful of players out with injuries/illness, so he had to mix and match with some of his combinations for the two-player teams.
Xavier took a 3-2 victory in perhaps its toughest match of the season, and remained unbeaten at 6-0.
“I’m proud of the way our girls were able to hang in there,’’ McHale said.
The three-time state champion Gators still appear to be on track to make a strong run at another crown, but McHale said, “Beach volleyball here (in Arizona) is headed in a good direction. We understand teams are getting better and there are other strong teams out there lurking.’’
Perhaps the best match of the day was between the schools’ No. 1 duos. The momentum continued to swing back and forth as the players hit the sand on several occasions and even dodged a few bees from the surrounding orange groves that showed up to watch. Highland emerged with the win.
“That (overall match) was one that could have gone either way,’’ McHale said. “Even in the matches we lost, we were right there – we had our opportunities but things just didn’t go our way. We know that it will be our turn soon.’’
One of the bright spots for the Gators was sophomore Francesca Caruso.
She is listed as the team manager, but has the skills necessary to compete as a member of the team if called upon. That happened Wednesday, when she stepped in to play for the No. 5 XCP duo.
Xavier’s next match is Monday (March 30) against Chandler Prep at McQueen Park in Gilbert. Starting time is 4 p.m.