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, June 4, 2015

Gators' Preach, Belknap help softball stars win

Nothing can replace the heartache from an elimination loss in the Division I state tournament, but a pair of outgoing senior softball players from Xavier Prep did their best on Thursday night (June 4) in the Arizona Coaches Association All-Star Game for Division I and II schools at Gilbert Mesquite.
Outfielder Amanda Preach and infielder Mallory Belknap were dressed in their blue and white uniform tops with the green trim and blue pants. They were easy to follow because they literally were all over the field, helping Team (Joe) Goodman defeat Team (Rob) Hehe 6-2.
Goodman is the head coach at Mesa Mountain View, Hehe at Gilbert Perry.
Preach played all three outfield spots and Belknap played three of the four infield positions, except for third base. Goodman was flexible with the position changes.
“It was a fun game,’’ said Belknap.
“We know a lot of these girls from the (regular) season and club, so it was great seeing everybody and playing on the same team with them,’’ Preach said.
Preach batted twice. She led off the bottom of the fifth inning with an infield hit, went to second on a throwing error on the same play, took third on another error and scored on a groundout to make it 4-2.
Belknap batted three times and appeared to have a line-drive hit to left-center field in the sixth, but Flagstaff shortstop Rachel Hernandez leaped and snagged the ball at the top of her jump for the final out of the inning.
As much fun as they had in this one, the win won’t make up for the Gators’ loss to eventual state champion Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor in the Division I semifinals.
“It definitely doesn’t make up for it,’’ Belknap said. “That one still hurts and probably will for awhile.’’
Now a new chapter begins for the girls. Preach will play for Arizona Christian University in north Phoenix and Belknap will play for Georgetown in Washington, D.C.

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