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.

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.

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