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, April 28, 2016

Gators hold No. 6 seed in softball tournament

The Xavier Prep softball team had hoped to enter the upcoming Division I state tournament at no worse than the No. 5 seed, but in a surprising revelation, will be No. 6 instead.
Bracketing announced on Thursday (April 28) by the Arizona Interscholastic Association has the Gators (20-4) with an opening-round bye on Saturday (April 30). They would begin play in the second round on Tuesday (May 3) at 4 p.m. with a game at their Petznick Field home against the winner of Saturday’s game between No. 22 Gilbert High (8-17) and No. 11 host Chandler High (17-12).
The first two rounds of the state tournament are in the single-elimination format, then double-elimination thereafter.
If Xavier wins next Tuesday, it would advance to the next round on May 5 at 7:30 at the Rose Mofford Sports Complex in north Phoenix.
Xavier’s opponent would be No. 3 Mesa Desert Ridge, No. 19 Chandler Basha or No. 14 Peoria Centennial. The latter two play on Saturday for the right to advance against Desert Ridge. Xavier has played all three teams, losing to Desert Ridge, defeating Basha and had a 2-1 edge in games against Centennial.
Xavier has three solid pitchers – seniors Caitlyn Dickman and Emily Richards and freshman Kylie Rodgers.
It is in the hitting department where coach Carrie Markham has some concerns, at least in the early parts of games. She would just as soon not have to rally for victories as the team had to do in the latter stages of the regular season.
“We have to stay consistent, attack the ball early in the count and try to score early in the game,’’ she said. “We are certainly capable of coming back against almost any team, but you really don’t want to put that kind of pressure on yourself if you can avoid it.’’
Markham will rely on the top five in her batting order to get things going.
Those players are left fielder Annamarie Hartman at leadoff, center fielder Megan Donahey at No. 2, shortstop Becky Ducar at No. 3, pitcher-first baseman Dickman at No. 4 and pitcher-second baseman Richards at No. 5.

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