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, April 30, 2015

Xavier earns No. 3 seed in D-I state softball

The coaching staff and players from Xavier Prep’s softball team believe they are in a good spot as the No. 3 seed in the Division I state tournament, with a strong chance of making a run at the state title.
The seedings were released by the Arizona Interscholastic Association on Thursday (April 30) and XCP was one of the top eight seeds to earn a first-round bye. Seeds from 9-24 will begin play Saturday (May 2) and the top eight seeds will have their first game on Tuesday (May 5) at home.
Xavier is 23-6 after wrapping up the regular season with a 12-2 win at Mesa High on Tuesday night (April 28) and will host the winner of Saturday’s game between 19th-seeded Mesa Desert Ridge and No. 14 Gilbert Perry at 4 p.m. on Tuesday. Xavier defeated Desert Ridge 11-1 in a rain-soaked game in Mesa on March 18, but has not faced Perry.
After Tuesday, the double-elimination tournament continues on May 7 and May 9 at the Rose Mofford Sports Complex in north-central Phoenix, leading up to the finale on May 18 at Arizona State’s Farrington Stadium.
“I would say the top four teams (seeds) have a very good chance of winning it all,’’ said Xavier coach Bobby Pena.
Those teams are top-seeded Glendale Mountain Ridge, which finished as runner-up to Mesa Red Mountain a year ago, No. 2 Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor, Xavier and No. 4 Gilbert High.
Xavier fell to Mountain Ridge 3-0 on Monday (April 27) and was defeated by Phoenix Horizon 2-1 in the game before that, but Pena and his players don’t believe they are struggling.
“We split two games with Horizon (2-1 loss and 9-6 win) and we had our opportunities to win against Mountain Ridge. Nobody on our team is disappointed. We are optimistic,’’ Pena said.
Xavier has hit the ball well up and down the batting order and has two very good pitchers (juniors Caitlyn Dickman and Emily Richards), which comes in very handy during the state tournament. Opponents cannot focus on one or the other.
“Both girls have pitched very well, and I have no reservations about who should pitch and why. They are different types of pitchers and complement each other very well,’’ Pena said. “Sometimes we’ll use both of them in the same game and that makes it difficult for the opposing hitters to adjust.’’

Division I softball seeds
(Top eight seeds get first-round byes)
1 – Glendale Mountain Ridge. 2 – Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor. 3 – Phoenix Xavier Prep. 4 – Gilbert. 5 – Chandler Hamilton. 6 – Phoenix Horizon. 7 – Phoenix Pinnacle. 8 – Phoenix Desert Vista.
9 – Mesa Red Mountain. 10 – Tempe Corona del Sol. 11 – Anthem Boulder Creek. 12 – Phoenix Mountain Pointe. 13 – Chandler Basha. 14 – Gilbert Perry. 15 – Peoria Liberty. 16 – Peoria Centennial.
17 – Goodyear Millennium. 18 – Phoenix St. Mary’s. 19 – Mesa Desert Ridge. 20 – Glendale Deer Valley. 21 – Scottsdale Chaparral. 22 – Gilbert Highland. 23 – Mesa Skyline. 24 – Surprise Willow Canyon.

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