Xavier’s 3-2 softball victory over Phoenix Pinnacle in Saturday’s (Feb. 27) championship game of the Sunrise Mountain Invitational was significant in more ways than one.
The Gators went 5-1 in the tournament and served notice that they will be a force to be reckoned with all season. And first-year coach Carrie Markham’s win over Pinnacle came against Bobby Pena, the man she replaced at Xavier.
“It was a great team win,’’ Markham said.
The Gators began the tournament at Peoria’s Pioneer Park on Thursday (Feb. 25) with a 10-4 win over Surprise Shadow Ridge.
The team suffered a tough loss in the first of two games on Friday (Feb. 26), 8-7 at the hands of Peoria Centennial in a contest shortened by a time limit. The time-limit scenario again was a factor in XCP’s second game. The Gators rallied from a 4-2 deficit and recorded a 6-4 win over Glendale Raymond S. Kellis.
Xavier survived a three-game gauntlet on Saturday to claim the crown.
The Gators advanced easily after a 10-0, five-inning win over Goodyear Millennium in the first game. Next up was a rematch with Centennial, and Xavier prevailed this time 10-4. The win over Pinnacle was hard-fought until the end.
Xavier relies on the strong pitching of seniors Caitlyn Dickman and Emily Richards, and they came through in the tournament, both in the circle and with the bat.
“They hit pretty well,’’ Markham said.
Other players of note were senior center fielder Megan Donahey, who made some nice defensive plays, including some in the gaps, and sophomore catcher Melissa Fedorka, who did a good job of blocking pitches in the dirt and handling the pitchers.
The Gators return to action on Tuesday (March 1) with a road game at Chandler Basha (3:45 p.m.), and will play their home opener on Thursday (March 3) against Anthem Boulder Creek.
In a ceremony before the 6:30 p.m. game, the press box and Petznick Field will be dedicated in honor of long-time Xavier athletics official Sr. Nancy Perlick, who passed away in December.