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 16, 2016

Girls of summer focus on softball essentials

Girls who love softball have found a summer home at Xavier Prep.
Athletes from fifth through ninth grades have been in a week-long camp that wraps up on Friday (June 17).
Xavier coach Carrie Markham reports that there are about 20 players participating, with a broad spectrum of experience.
“Some come in pretty green, while others have some club and/or rec league experience,’’ Markham said. “All of them ask questions. They are interested in learning. Even by the third day (Wednesday), you could see improvement.
“It is a good group of girls. They are all having fun. They have made some friends. It’s not about being above or below anyone (ability-wise). The older ones help the younger ones.’’
The daily schedule usually begins at 8 a.m. at Petznick Field before it gets too hot. The girls are on the field for approximately 90 minutes before going into the gym to cool off a bit and having more drills for another 60-90 minutes.
Markham is assisted by Joe Bogart and Raul Vega as well as a returning player or two who will be on the varsity next spring.
Among the drills on the field are sliding, diving for the ball, going after fly balls, turning double plays and tags, pitching and catching.
Inside the gym are simulated games, with players taking their swings against Markham.
The coach wants the incoming freshmen to learn what it is like to play for Xavier, “what we do each day, how we do it. It is the same for them in the first year in the program through the fourth year.’’
The final day was to include even more fun, spreading a plastic sheet on the turf at Petznick, hosing it down with water and having the players get a running start and then sliding/splashing.
What a great way to spend part of the summer.

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