Bio

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 AIA365.com, the web site of the Arizona Interscholastic Association.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

"Cardiac Gators'' give softball fans a thrill


Xavier’s "Cardiac Gators'' did it again!!
With a trip to the Division I softball state tournament loser’s bracket staring them in the face, the Gators rallied for a run in the bottom of the sixth inning and three more in the bottom of the seventh for a 5-4 victory over Phoenix Pinnacle on Tuesday night (May 12) at the Rose Mofford Sports Complex in Phoenix.
Third-seeded Xavier would have played on Wednesday night (May 13) had it lost in the double-elimination tournament, but now gets a day of rest before playing a winner’s bracket game against top-seeded Glendale Mountain Ridge on Thursday (May 14) at Rose Mofford. First pitch is 6:30 p.m. Mountain Ridge (29-6) defeated Xavier 3-0 in a regular-season game on April 27.
Xavier (26-6) took a 1-0 lead in the second inning against seventh-seeded Pinnacle, but the Pioneers got that right back in the third, scored another run in the fourth and two more in the sixth for a 4-1 lead. Xavier had some trouble on defense, committing five errors.
The Gators got one back in the bottom of the sixth. Becky Ducar led off with a single and scored on a one-out single by Sam Sydenham.
In the seventh, Ducar hit a two-run single and eventually reached third with two out. She scored the game-winner when a rise-ball pitch to Sydenham was a bit too high and ticked off the top of the mitt of the Pinnacle catcher for a wild pitch.
Asked if she headed to the plate on her own or was told to go by third-base coach Bobby Pena, the team’s head coach, Ducar said, “I went on my own. I couldn’t hear anything other than the crowd. The ball just rolled (near the backstop) and I thought there was a good chance I could make it.’’
Before the bottom of the sixth, Pena gathered his players and had a “discussion’’ with them. Acutally, he was the only one doing the talking and he scolded them a little bit.
“I guess I got their attention,’’ he said. “I told them they needed to do some things better than they had been doing.’’
One who took those words to heart was Anne Marie Hartman. The sophomore left fielder, hitting left-handed, led off the seventh by punching the ball between the third baseman and shortstop. One out later, Mallory Belknap also singled and Megan Donahey beat out an infield hit back to the pitcher to load the bases.
Ducar then came up with the game-tying hit. It was Ducar’s third hit of the game.
Of her leadoff hit in the seventh, Hartman said, “I was just trying to get on base, do whatever I could to help the team.
“We weren’t going to go down without a fight. That’s the way we have played all year.’’
Said Ducar: “When we get behind, we have the confidence that a lot of teams don’t because we have done it before. We don’t play as a team, we play as a family.’’
Junior pitchers Caitlyn Dickman and Emily Richards combined to limit Pinncale to six hits. Xavier had 11 hits.



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