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.

Monday, June 6, 2016

XCP softball's Dickman, Ducar are D-lightful

Softball stars Caitlyn Dickman and Becky Ducar will get to wear their Xavier Prep uniforms one last time when they play in Wednesday’s (June 8) Division I All-Star Game at Campo Verde High in Gilbert. First pitch is 8 p.m.
Both players will be moving on to play collegiately at Villanova, just outside of Philadelphia.
Ducar, a shortstop, and Dickman, a pitcher-first baseman, recently graduated, as did another All-Star selection, outfielder Megan Donahey. An injury will prevent Donahey from playing in this one.
“This game should be a lot of fun, playing with some players who you have played with and against in high school and club ball,’’ said Ducar.
“We want to go out with a bang. It’s an All-Star Game, but there is still something on the line, having the pride to play well,’’ said Dickman.
Ducar and Dickman played club ball for the Arizona Athletics, who play all over the country. They will play in an upcoming tournament in Hemet, Calif.
Both enjoyed their time at Xavier.
“Xavier has a lot to offer. I wouldn’t go to any other school,’’ Ducar said.
There are quite a few memories on the field. Ducar said one of her favorites was this season’s home opener at Petznick Field that served as a tribute to late XCP sports administrator, Sr. Nancy Perlick. Ducar hit the decisive home run in a win over Anthem Boulder Creek.
The Gators had many tough opponents, and one of Dickman’s favorites was the rivalry with Glendale Mountain Ridge.
“Those were all intense games and you had to make sure you were focused,’’ she said.
Xavier finished 20-5 in 2016, and Dickman had an 11-1 record and hit .424 with 28 RBIs. Ducar had 37 hits, scored 29 runs and drove in 29 runs.
The support from family members and friends helped motivate the players.
Dickman’s family attended most of the games, as did Ducar’s. You might consider her large group to be “Becky’s Brigade,’’ with parents, cousin Julia Blake (an XCP lacrosse player) and grandparents. They even would wear shirts with Ducar’s name on them.
Dickman has been pitching about half of her life. One of the most difficult things was trying to master the change-up.
“The pitch was incredibly hard,’’ she said. “It made me want to sit down and cry. But my dad helped me through it, encouraged me and I continued to practice until I got it.’’
Ducar has played several positions, but should will see more time in the outfield in club ball because that will be her likely spot at Villanova.
She will study nursing. The school has a strong nursing curriculum and the head coach (Maria DiBernardi) has a nursing degree. Ducar said despite the rigors of nursing study and playing softball, her coach believes she can handle the workload.
And Dickman is pointing toward a degree in economics.
“I’d kind of like to go on to law school, and economics gives you a good base to work from, whatever direction you decide to go,’’ she said.
The education these girls received at Xavier and their softball experiences should carry them a long way.

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