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.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Gators' Kelley does well in national hoops tryouts

Xavier sophomore-to-be Alana Kelley had quite an achievement over the weekend, reaching the final 92 spots for the 2015 USA Under 16 National Womens Basketball Team.
When the roster was trimmed to 40, the 5-foot-11 Kelley unfortunately was not on that list that eventually will be trimmed to 12, but the experience she gained undoubtedly will aid her as she continues to develop her skills for the Gators during the 2015-16 season and in future national tryouts.
Congratulations, Alana!!
The tryouts were held at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Xavier crews come through in tough competition

Who says a desert-based team can’t excel in rowing?
A couple of Xavier Prep crew teams recently proved otherwise at the SRAA National Championships in New Jersey.
Xavier’s junior 4x group of Ellie Martin, Grace Ganz, Martha Ryan and Cami Hays won the national championship by eight seconds, quite an accomplishment.
In two weeks, Martin and Ryan will race at USRowing Youth National Championships in Florida.
The freshman 4x team also performed well, finishing in fourth place, less than three seconds out of third place. The rowers were Dominique Jablonski, Tatiana Rosales, Paulina Oles and Anna Heslin.
The XCP crews are coached by Emily Burkett.

Xavier's triumphant 4x junior crew.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Gators' Clarke is Tennis Player of the Year

Madison Clarke’s focus and intensity on the tennis court were unmatched in her senior season for Xavier, and it paid off with her third consecutive Division I state singles crown.
Clarke was named Girls Tennis Player of the Year for the third straight year by
Clarke, who will play collegiately at the University of Santa Clara, also helped Xavier win its fourth straight team title.
Said XCP coach Laurie Martin: “She’s an amazing young lady, and an amazing gift to our program.’’

XCP players earn lacrosse honors

Xavier Prep’s strong lacrosse season earned postseason honors for three Gator players.
Senior Areta Buness helped XCP reach the Arizona Girls Lacrosse Association semifinals. She was named as the Midfielder of the Year and was a first-team All-State selection.
Also, Kate Hobaica and Kate Hall received the AGLA’s 2015 All-State Honorable Mention designation.
XCP was coached by Caitlin Bebout.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Gator softball grads glad, sad on same day

On Saturday morning (May 16), there was plenty of pomp and circumstance and smiles to go around as Xavier Prep’s four senior softball players marched with their classmates at the school’s graduation ceremony.
By late afternoon, circumstances had changed and the seniors, along with their underclassman teammates, fought back tears as the Gators were eliminated from the Division I state tournament 9-2 by Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor.
The winner’s bracket contest in the double-elimination tournament originally was to be played on Friday night (May 15) at the Rose Mofford Sports complex in Phoenix, but was postponed until Saturday due to rain.
Third-seeded Xavier had dropped from the winner’s bracket on Thursday night (May 14) with a 7-3 loss to Glendale Mountain Ridge, the No. 1 seed. The win by second-seeded O’Connor over Xavier sets up a title game between the top two seeds on Monday night (May 18) at Arizona State’s Farrington Stadium.
Xavier (26-9) held a 2-0 lead over O’Connor on a run-scoring single by Annamarie Hartman in the top of the second inning and an RBI double by Amanda Preach in the third. But the Gators could have had more, leaving five runners stranded in the first three innings and three more the rest of the contest.
O’Connor (35-7) got out of some dangerous situations with its defense, coming up with four double plays. In three of those situations, Xavier runners were doubled off the bases following line drives.
“We hit the ball well, but I guess it was too well – right to them,’’ said Xavier assistant coach Joe Bogart, who was placed in the role of head coach for this one after head coach Bobby Pena was ejected from the game against Mountain Ridge. Pena watched most of the game as he stood beyond the portable fence in center field.
Xavier did not play O’Connor during the regular season or the playoffs, but Bogart had an idea that it was going to take more than two runs by the Gators to win the game.
“They (O’Connor) don’t give up – they won a lot of their games late, just like we did,’’ he said.
O’Connor tied it at 2 with a pair of runs in the bottom of the fourth and took the lead for good with three in the fifth, all of those runs coming on a home run by Hayley Busby. It appeared that Xavier center fielder Megan Donahey might have caught the ball at first when she made contact with the fence in left-center and tumbled over, but that was not the case.
The Eagles sewed it up with four more in the sixth, on six hits. They did not have any hits over the first three innings, but finished with 13.
“We played good enough to win, but it just didn’t happen,’’ Bogart said. “It was a tough loss, and I feel bad for our seniors (Preach, Sam Sydenham, Emily Jordan, Mallory Belknap). Our seniors were great leaders for us. I don’t know how you replace something like that.’’

Friday, May 15, 2015

Tournament loss to Mtn. Ridge stuns Gator softball

As if the way Xavier’s softball team lost 7-3 to Glendale Mountain Ridge in Thursday night’s (May 14) winner’s bracket game of the Division I state softball tournament wasn’t enough, now the Gators must do it the hard way if they want to face Mountain Ridge in the state championship game on Monday (May 18) at Arizona State.
Third-seeded Xavier (26-7) must come up through the winner’s bracket in the double-elimination tournament and will need to defeat second-seeded Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor on Friday night (May 15) at the Rose Mofford Sports Complex in north-central Phoenix. The game was originally scheduled for 8 p.m., but has been moved up to 6 p.m.
And it appears that Xavier will not be allowed to have head coach Bobby Pena coach the team against O’Connor. He was ejected in the bottom of the seventh inning against top-seeded Mountain Ridge, and rules state that a coach must sit out a game before returning to the field.
Assistants Joe Bogart and Carrie Markham would coach the team.
Xavier took a 2-0 lead in the top of the third inning on run-scoring hits by Megan Donahey and Becky Ducar. Mountain Ridge tied it in its half of the third on a two-run home run by Bailey Gaffin.
The Gators inched in front 3-2 in the sixth inning when Sam Sydenham singled with two out and came all the way around to score when a sharp single to right by starting pitcher Emily Richards got by the right fielder for an error.
A similar play allowed Mountain Ridge to tie it in the bottom of the sixth.
Gaffin led off with a hit to right, the ball went off the right fielder’s glove and Gaffin made it to third. She scored on a single by Alyssa Dicarlo.
Xavier might have had a more comfortable lead, but two runners were thrown out at the plate in the third and sixth innings. In both instances, a pitch got away from the Mountain Ridge catcher, who recovered the ball in time and tossed it to pitcher Giselle Juarez covering the plate.
With the score knotted at 3 and one out in the bottom of the seventh, Richards walked a batter on a very close 3-2 pitch. Pena brought in Caitlyn Dickman to pitch, and she walked a batter, putting runners at second and first.
Mountain Ridge’s Taylor Kaye then hit a bouncer along the first base line. Xavier first baseman Melissa Fedorka fielded the ball and tagged the runner, at least according to the initial ruling by the base umpire. Mountain Ridge coach Michelle Markham told her runner to stay at first and had a discussion with the umpiring crew, and the base umpire changed his original call.
Pena obviously was upset and protested first to the base umpire, then barked at the plate umpire, who tossed him.
Xavier got a second out when a runner was forced at the plate on a grounder to second baseman Mallory Belknap. But Dicarlo then sent the ball over the fence for a game-winning grand slam to left, and that was that.