Things are about to get a lot more interesting for high school softball in the Valley.
Carrie Markham has been named to replace Bobby Pena as head coach at Xavier Prep, and she now will get the opportunity to coach against her cousin, Michelle, who led Glendale Mountain Ridge to the Division I state championship in 2015.
The transition for Carrie Markham probably will be a bit easier since she served as an assistant coach for Pena the last three years, and the returning Gator players will have more of an idea of what to expect than if someone came in from the outside. Pena left Xavier to become head coach at Glendale Community College.
Markham will have Joe Bogart return as an assistant, and has been working on getting a second assistant.
“I’m really excited about this opportunity,’’ Markham said. “I really had a chance to learn a lot from Bobby, who knows the game like nobody else. There might be a few changes next spring, but I don’t think there will be many. We still expect to play a disciplined game.’’
|New XCP softball coach Carrie Markham.|
Markham was a pitcher at Bourgade Catholic in Phoenix and at Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina, and will have the luxury of two outstanding senior pitchers returning for XCP, Caitlyn Dickman and Emily Richards.
Xavier also will have two other key seniors, shortstop Becky Ducar and center fielder Megan Donahey.
“The team culture has always been one of camaraderie,’’ Markham said. “We never seem to have any issues. The girls get along well and it shows on the field.’’
Xavier fell to Mountain Ridge and Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor in last season’s Division I state tournament, but still finished with an outstanding 26-8 record.
“We were disappointed with the way the season ended, but the girls are ready to come back strong and we feel like we have some younger girls who can step up,’’ Markham said.
Markam’s father and Michelle Markham’s father are brothers.
“It’s always fun to play them, because a lot of the girls know each other from club ball,’’ Carrie Markham said. “It should be a little more interesting now.’’
She is thankful for the support that softball and other sports receive from the XCP administration and the parents.
“The support is way beyond other schools,’’ Markham said. “Whatever we need, people are willing to help us out. And the facilities are beautiful.’’
Particularly Petznick Field, the Gators’ home.