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.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Versatility is trademark of XCP softball team

The weather has turned warm again, and that means that things are beginning to heat up for the Xavier Prep softball team.
The Gators, armed with the pitching duo of seniors Caitlyn Dickman and Emily Richards, have a preseason scrimmage at Gilbert Perry on Friday (Feb. 19) and open the season with an appearance in the Peoria Unified School District Invitational Feb. 25-27 at Pioneer Park in Peoria.
Xavier had a strong 2014-15 season (26-8) that was cut short by consecutive setbacks in the Division I state tournament, but most of the team is back and ready for a fresh start. The team also has a new coach in Carrie Markham, who replaces Bobby Pena.
“We’re a very athletic team and we can play a lot of girls at different positions,’’ said Markham, who will be assisted by Joe and Emma Bogart. “We seem to be working together pretty well so far.’’
Dickman and Richards are both right-handers. When she is not in the circle, Dickman usually can be found at first base. Richards also can play outfield or swing the bat as the designated hitter/flex player.
The Gators have two other seniors who will play key roles – center fielder Megan Donahey and shortstop Becky Ducar.
Donahey can track down just about anything hit in her direction and will use her speed to make an impact near the top of Markham’s batting order. Ducar also is an above-average defender who has some pop in her bat and likely will hit one or two spots behind Donahey.
The only remaining returning starter is junior left fielder Annamarie Hartman.
Stepping into a regular role behind the plate is sophomore Melissa Fedorka. Her situation is unusual because she throws left-handed.
“You don’t often see that (in a catcher), but it hasn’t really bothered her in the past and we don’t expect it to now,’’ said Markham of Fedorka, who also plays first base.
“We’ve got some good young players. They can fill in wherever they’re needed and they should be able to adapt to the pace of the game.’’
Xavier’s home opener will be Thursday, March 3 against Anthem Boulder Creek. Before the 6:30 p.m.  game, there will be a ceremony in which the Petznick Field press box will be named in honor of Sr. Nancy Perlick, the beloved assistant athletic director and staffer who passed away in December. She served as the public address announcer for softball as well as other sports.

Xavier Prep 2015-16 varsity softball roster
P Caitlyn Dickman, P Emily Richards, CF Megan Donahey, SS Becky Ducar.
INF Kelsey Melton, INF-OF Keela Stehly, INF Macrina Zachar, LF Annamarie Hartman.
C Jordan Bassett, INF Marie Funes, C-INF Melissa Fedorka, INF-P Mercedes Silva, OF-P Abby Rascon.
P Kylie Rodgers.

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