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.

Friday, March 31, 2017

XCP softball survives on game-saving defensive play

Of all the ways a softball game could end, this scenario probably wouldn’t be near the top of the list.
But it happened, and the play enabled Xavier Prep to survive with a 7-6 victory over visiting Chandler Basha on Thursday (March 30). The teams were to play again on Friday (March 31), this time at Basha.
The Bears had scored twice in the top of the seventh to cut the deficit to one run, had the tying run at third base and the go-ahead run at first with only one out.
Sydney Stolze lofted a fly ball into foul territory about medium depth in left field. Gators left fielder Katie Donahey caught the ball and saw that baserunner Paige Gregersen was tagging up at third.
It was no contest. Donahey’s throw to catcher Jordan Bassett was in plenty of time and just like that, the game was over.
What a finish!
The win was very important for Xavier because it snapped a four-game losing streak.
Gators coach Carrie Markham didn’t go so far to claim that it was a make-or-break game, “but it was a real good win to get.’’
In the seventh, as Basha made its comeback attempt, Markham put Mercedes Silva in the pitching circle with one out. Silva replaced Marisa Sgambati, who had pitched a solid game to that point.
Markham huddled with her players as Silva warmed up and reminded them that the outcome could hinge on a play at the plate. It did, although Markham thought the play would be a hard-hit ball to the infield.
“We talked about being ready for something, and they were,’’ Markham said.
Xavier raised its record to 6-10, while Basha dipped to 12-10.
“Our team collectively hit well today,’’ Markham said.
Xavier had 11 hits, Basha 12.
Outfielder Annamarie Hartman led the way with three hits, including a double and triple. First baseman Melissa Fedorka and second baseman Macrina Zachar had two hits each. Fedorka and Silva each drove in two runs to highlight a six-run third inning for the Gators.
Bassett’s groundout brought home what would prove to be the winning run in the Xavier fifth.

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