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 3, 2015

Gators fall to Basha in home softball opener

After playing six games in three days in a Peoria tournament over the weekend, Phoenix Xavier Prep looked forward to its home softball opener at Petznick Field on Tuesday (March 3).
It didn’t turn out as well as the Gators had hoped.
Visiting Chandler Basha connected for three home runs, including one of the inside-the-park variety, and took a 7-3 victory.
Xavier dropped to 4-3, Basha climbed to 6-2 in the Division I contest.
Fortunately for the Gators, they won’t have much time to dwell on the setback, as they play another home game on Wednesday (March 4) against Gilbert High.
Basha center fielder and leadoff hitter Brooke Breland hit the third pitch of the game from Caitlin Dickman for a home run and a 1-0 lead.
Xavier got a pair of hits in the second inning but couldn’t push a run across in an attempt to tie. The third inning worked out much better as Megan Donahey reached on an error and scored on a line-drive double off the right-field fence by Amanda Preach.
The Gators took a 2-1 lead in the fourth when Dickman reached on another error and courtesy runner Kayla Stehly scored on a ground ball by Melissa Fedorka.
Basha quickly regained the lead in the top of the fifth inning.
Kami Shull hit a two-run homer following a walk and the next batter, pitcher Abby Andersen, sprinted all the way around the bases on an inside-the-park homer. Andersen hit a shallow fly ball to left field, the outfielder dived for the ball but couldn’t make the catch and the ball rolled into the corner.
Xavier appeared ready to break through in the bottom of the sixth.
Samantha Sydenham led off with a ground-rule double and scored on a single by Donahey. Donahey and Mallory Belknap, who was on base ahead of her, each advanced one base on a wild pitch. Preach hit a sharp grounder near the second-base bag, but the Basha second baseman fielded it and threw Preach out on a very close play for the final out of the inning.
Holding onto a precarious 4-3 lead, Basha scored three more to ice it in the top of the seventh on an error and run-scoring hits by Kayla Scholz and Taylor Bartholomew.
Emily Richards drew a leadoff walk for the Gators in the bottom of the seventh, but they could not put anything together after that.

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