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 15, 2017

Softball campers enjoy basics -- particularly sliding

One minute, they were running and hitting at Petznick Field. The next, they were continuing to work in the McGrath Gymnasium. Attendees at the Xavier Prep summer softball camp certainly kept busy as the annual event began Monday (June 19) and wrapped up on Thursday (June 15).
About 20 athletes were registered, some of them incoming freshmen and others from the upper levels of elementary school.
“I wouldn’t say the heat is overwhelming. They are not standing around, and there is a little bit of a breeze that helps. Being in the gym also gives us a break,’’ said XCP coach Carrie Markham.
Nothing like next week, when the temperature is expected to approach 120.
As a bonus on Thursday’s final day, Markham told the girls to wear swimming attire along with their softball gear, and a Slip ‘n Slide was set up to allow the players to splash around.
The players learned sliding for real during the camp.
Since Petznick is covered with artificial turf, it takes time to learn how to slide correctly.
“If you dig your cleats down into the turf, it will stop you. But if you get down and let the momentum carry you into the base, you should be OK. It’s a little easier to do.’’
When running the bases, campers learn to step on the front inside corner of the bag and push off to allow them to keep moving.
It all starts with the swing, and campers are learning the mechanics of that.
“They need to attack the ball, hit the ball hard,’’ Markham said.
The coach also emphasized the importance of throwing to the proper base.
Markham was helped by assistant coach Joe Bogart and a handful of her current players, Jordan Bassett, Katie Banks and Katie Donahey.
“It’s good to see the young players out here,’’ Markham said. “They’re enthusiastic and they want to learn.’’

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