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 30, 2018

Basha bounces Gators for 2nd straight day

The Easter break will offer Xavier Prep’s softball team a chance to R&R . . . and R.

That’s rest, relax and regroup.

The Gators wrapped up their pre-break schedule on Thursday (March 29) with their second loss to Chandler Basha in as many days and third in a row overall. Xavier is now 3-12-2 overall.

Thursday’s 11-1 setback at Basha was limited to five innings, according to the 10-run rule. Basha (14-7) scored five runs in the opening inning and five more in the fourth.

Xavier had six hits, including two each by Lizzie Marino and Mercedes Silva. One of Silva’s hits was a double.

The Gators’ next game will come on April 11, a road game at Queen Creek.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Tennis, beach teams win, softball slides

Xavier Prep’s tennis and beach volleyball teams recorded shutouts on Wednesday (March 28), but the softball team fell just short.

Tennis scored a 9-0 sweep at Phoenix Mountain Pointe and beach volleyball turned away host Phoenix Desert Vista 5-0.

Despite giving up four first-inning runs, the softball team got close at Petznick Field against Chandler Basha, but the Bears were able to hang on for a 7-5 win.

Xavier (3-11-2) collected 12 hits, three each by Macy Lee, Melissa Fedorka and Jordan Bassett.

The Gators were due to play another game against Basha on Thursday (March 29), this time at Basha.

Tennis and lacrosse both will return after the Easter break. On April 10. Lacrosse will be at home against Phoenix Horizon and on April 11, tennis will play at home against Tempe Corona del Sol.

Softball will play at Queen Creek on April 11.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

XCP grad Farr-Kaye receives ASU award

Xavier graduate Missy Farr-Kaye, golf coach at Arizona State, got support from Xavier when she received the ASU Alumni Achievement Award as part of ASU Founders Day on March 21. From left, assistant principal-athletic director Sr. Lynn Winsor, Farr-Kaye, XCP president Sr. Joan Fitzgerald, associate athletic director and former ASU player Tui Selvaratnam and former Xavier and ASU player Brooke Todare. (Xavier photo).

Highland softball is "two much'' for Gators

Two by two, Gilbert Highland rallied twice from deficits with two-run innings and then moved in front of host Xavier Prep with two more in the sixth inning for a 6-4 softball victory on Tuesday (March 27).

Xavier dipped to 3-10-2 overall while Highland reached the .500 mark at 11-11.

The Gators took a 2-0 lead in the first inning on a two-run double by Melissa Fedorka, but Highland tied it up with two in its half of the third. Those runs snapped a 15 2/3-innings scoreless streak for Xavier pitcher Abby Rascon.

Xavier went in front 4-2 in its half of the third on an error and a sacrifice fly by Mercedes Silva.

The lead was short-lived as the Hawks tied it at 4 in the fourth.

A triple and a groundout produced Highland’s final two runs in the sixth.

The Gators appeared headed for another possible tie in the seventh. They got two runners on with a pair of hits but those runners were left stranded.

Xavier was due to be back at Petznick Field on Wednesday (March 28) for the first of a back-to-back two-day “double-header’’ with Chandler Basha. The teams are to meet again on Thursday (March 29) at Basha.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Goal drought in second half dooms lacrosse

It has been a tough stretch for the Xavier Prep club lacrosse team.

Last week, the Gators faced Scottsdale Chaparral, the top team in the Arizona Girls Lacrosse Association, and dropped a 16-4 decision.

On Monday night (March 26), XCP faced Phoenix Pinnacle, the league’s second-best team, at Petznick. The result was much the same as the contest against Chaparral, as Pinnacle rolled to a 20-6 triumph.

Xavier (3-6) was within striking distance at halftime with an 11-6 deficit, but a 9-0 run by Pinnacle (8-1) in the second half doused further hopes of a comeback.

Sophomore Kit Blouin scored Xavier’s first goal, followed by junior Sarah Minton. Senior Caylie Wagner then came on strong with four goals.

The Gators had a scare in the closing seconds of the game when Wagner was struck on her forearm/wrist by another player’s stick. She was evaluated by medical personnel and the injury is a contusion (bruising). She is a likely participant in the team’s next match.

Xavier plays its next match against host Tempe Corona del Sol on Wednesday night (March 28) at 6:30.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Gators fall short in top beach bracket

Xavier Prep’s Macy Gordon and Cierra Flood won the first two Cat Box Classic beach volleyball tournaments as juniors in 2016 and seniors in 2017, but the Gators came up a bit short in the 2018 version on Saturday (March 24).

Xavier had five pairs in the tournament’s top bracket, the Gold. A duo from Tempe Corona del Sol defeated a pair from Phoenix Arcadia for the crown at the University of Arizona in Tucson.

The Gators go back to team competition on Monday (March 26) with a contest against Tempe Marcos de Niza at Kiwanis Park in Tempe. The match begins at 4 p.m.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Rascon leads Xavier softball past Des. Mtn.

When a pitcher is at the top of their game, sometimes all they need is one run of support.

Xavier Prep’s Abby Rascon made that a reality on Friday (March 23) against visiting Scottsdale Desert Mountain at Petznick Field.

She made a third-inning run stand up, giving up just three hits (none after the third inning) and striking out 10 (at least one in each inning) as the Gators picked up a 1-0 victory

Xavier is now 3-9-2, Desert Mountain 4-14.

Rascon also had pitched well in a 2-0 loss to Sunnyside in Tucson on Wednesday (March 21), giving up four hits while striking out nine.

Against Desert Mountain, she walked the leadoff batter in the first inning and gave up an infield hit off her own glove. After that, the Wolves were able to do very little.

It appeared that Xavier might take a 1-0 lead in its half of the first. Melissa Fedorka belted a two-out triple. She attempted to score shortly thereafter, but the Desert Mountain catcher retrieved the wild pitch that rolled near the backstop and threw to the pitcher just in time to get Fedorka.

The Gators stranded two runners in the second, and hit paydirt in the third.

With one out, freshman Lizzie Marino singled to right center, stole second and came home on a bloop single down the right-field line by Sydney Johnson, another freshman.

Marino, who usually plays center field and leads off, is developing into an effective all-around player, both offensively and defensively. She is aggressive on the basepaths, part of which, according to Xavier coach Carrie Markham, could be attributed to her fondness for playing youth ice hockey and the aggression that it brings.

“She could play just about anywhere on the field,’’ Markham said.

The coach reserved most of her praise for Rascon.

“She has good off-speed pitches and consistently hits her location in and out (in relation to the plate). She doesn’t often miss pitchers and keeps the hitters guessing.’’

So that’s two close games in a row for Rascon. Does the low margin for error help her maintain her focus?

“Yes,’’ she said. “Today, my pitches were working – change-ups, screwballs and curves. When it (score) is close, I just try to breathe and slow everything down.’’

Before Easter break, the Gators will have three games in the coming week. They will face Gilbert Highland at Petznick on Tuesday (March 27), Chandler Basha at Petznick on Wednesday (March 28) and Basha again on Thursday (March 29) at Basha.

Big comeback for softball pitcher Rodgers

Xavier Prep’s softball program and the school itself received the biggest blessing imaginable on Friday (March 23).

Junior softball pitcher Kylie Rodgers, who has been sidelined for at least a year as she battled cancer in her right leg and hip, was announced as officially being cancer-free. The affected areas have artificial replacements.

Rodgers has been serving as a team manager this season. It is her goal to return to the pitching circle at some point.

As a tribute, her teammates and players from visiting Scottsdale Desert Mountain wore yellow ribbons in their hair. And Xavier assistant coach Joe Bogart got into the spirit by having a ribbon tied to the back of his cap. Yellow and blue ribbon also adorned part of the bleachers.

Rodgers was presented with gifts, including a flower bouquet from Desert Mountain pitcher Peyton Fredericks.

And fans came through as well, responding to a pre-announced plea for hats to go to help young people such as Rodgers who had lost their hair due to chemotherapy. They were placed in a box for Crowns of Courage, a local non-profit group.
It was awesome! Kylie, all of us are excited for your latest news and admire your resolve to reach this point. Continued blessings to you, your family, physicians and support system.

Xavier wins its 8th out of 10 tennis matches

Xavier Prep’s tennis team raised its record to 8-2 on Thursday (March 22) with a 9-0 victory over host Mesa High.

Singles winners for the Gators were Kate Stegman, Emily Good, Caroline Armknecht, Kate Straneva, Phoebe Ransco and Kate Greene.

Doubles winners were Stegman-Straneva, Good-Armknecht and Ransco-Greene.

Xavier is back out on the road again on Monday (March 26) for a match at Gilbert High.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Kate Straneva making every moment count

There’s almost no place on the Xavier Prep campus and even beyond where you can’t sense the presence of Kate Straneva. You might not always see her, but you know she has been or will be there.

She is making the most of her senior year.

She is the student-body president, helps to organize school activities, has challenging work in the classroom, ran for the cross-country team last fall and is playing on the tennis team this spring. She also has written for the student publication, the Xpress, and finds time to work as a volunteer at Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

So it is not really surprising that she will move on to college at Duke University, joining older sister Anne at the North Carolina institution.  Straneva also has a twin brother, Ryan, who attends Brophy Prep and plays tennis there.

Xavier senior Kate Straneva is ready for another tennis match (photo by Don Ketchum).

Straneva has paired tennis with cross country for awhile now and enjoys the diversity.

“If you do the same sport over and over all year, I think your body tends to wear down,’’ she said. “I’ve logged a lot of long miles in cross country and there’s always a chance for stress fractures.’’

When Straneva goes to Duke, she likely will continue to run, although likely not competitively, but more for cardiovascular health. She also would like to play intramural tennis.

She plans to focus her studies at Duke on bioinformatics, which combines biology with computer technology. She would combine the two to develop software tools that would help analyze biological data.

Straneva’s interest in tennis comes from her mother, who Straneva says “has played all her life.’’ Straneva played soccer in elementary school and did some running, but still enjoyed the tennis.

She and her brother played tennis against each other, and she said her parents had to laugh “because we would fight a lot about the line calls.’’

Her primary role for Xavier’s team is in doubles, with an occasional singles match thrown in for good measure. In past years, her doubles partner was the now graduated Shelby Daniel, and now her partners are Lorelei Glidden and Maddy Corley.

“I’m a much better player in doubles than singles,’’ said Straneva, who likely will take one of the singles spots in a match at Mesa High on Thursday (March 22). “I like playing more at the net in doubles and can get a better sense of what is going on.’’

One of the keys to success in doubles is having the players get together and “strategize,’’ while making sure there is good communication once the match starts.

Straneva makes it a point to be very aware of the world’s social issues and was part of the group that created the recent assembly at Petznick Field in honor of those students and others at a Parkland, Fla., high school who were killed by a gunman. All Xavier students met on the field, shared a moment of silence for the victims and prayed for them.

“The idea started with some social media and people discussing what would work,’’ she said.

Participation in an exchange-student program also will create lasting memories. Straneva hosted a student from Germany for a brief period, which included trips to the Grand Canyon and Oregon for a cross-country meet. Straneva recently went to Germany to experience that side of the story. She learned about the sport of field hockey and met a lot of nice people, she said.

At Phoenix Children’s Hospital, she serves as an unpaid intern, helping schedule psychology-related appointments and putting together new patient information packets.

It is an eye-opening experience, she said.

Tuesday’s result

Chandler Hamilton 6, Xavier Prep 3


Hamilton def. Erica Stutz, Emily Even def. Hamilton, Hamilton def. Lorelei Glidden, Maddy Corley def. Hamilton, Hamilton def. Kate Stegman, Hamilton def. Emily Good.


Stutz-Even def. Hamilton, Hamilton def. Glidden-Kate Straneva, Hamilton def. Corley-Stegman.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Gator lacrosse feels Chaparral's power

The Firebirds from Scottsdale Chaparral look like any other lacrosse team, but that all changes when they step onto the field.

They become a picture of balance, passing and cutting with precision and covering seemingly every inch of the field with their defense.

On Monday night (March 19), first-place Chaparral traveled to face Xavier Prep at Petznick Field and gave the Gators a lesson.

The Firebirds scored seven unanswered goals in the first 7 ½ minutes of the game, had a 12-0 lead at halftime and were never threatened in a 16-4 victory.

Chaparral shares first place in the Arizona Girls Lacrosse Association standings with Phoenix Pinnacle, both at 6-0. Xavier slipped to 3-5.

The Firebirds took their foot off the accelerator for the most part in the second half. With such a large lead, the game had been on a running clock since the 12:46 mark of the first half, when Chaparral scored its 10th goal.

Chaparral held a 14-0 lead until Xavier scored its first goal with 10:23 left in the contest.

Senior Caylie Wagner put the ball in the net. Her goal was followed by those from Tara Kobierowski,  Nina Mackey and Kit Blouin.

Xavier had a match against Phoenix Desert Vista on Friday (March 23) in Casa Grande that has been cancelled. The game will be rescheduled at Xavier at a later date.

The Gators face another challenge on Monday (March 26) with a road match against Pinnacle at 6 p.m.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Gators finish 4th in North Canyon meet

Led by versatile junior Jada Sims, the Xavier Prep track and field team finished fourth out of 34 teams in the North Canyon Rattler Booster Invitational over the weekend at Phoenix North Canyon.

Sims got an automatic state qualifying mark in the 100-meter hurdles by finishing second, and finished second in the long jump.

Also, three XCP athletes competed for the first time in the javelin, which has been added to the list of events by the Arizona Interscholastic Association this season.

They are junior Gisselle Bojorquez, who finished third, sophomore Kendall Swanson, who was fifth, and junior Kolbe Pierce, who was sixth.

The following athletes came up with personal records in various events.

They were Amaka Alilonu (100), Karli Baker (800, 1,600), Karina Hawkins (1,600), Mary Long (400, HJ), Johnnie Mitchell (200), Eliza Mulkhern (100H, 300H), Ciara Quiambao (100), Jada Sims (100H, 200), Karina Smith (800) and Jamie Stelnik (3,200).

Xavier will be participating in a non-varsity meet at Tempe Corona del Sol on Wednesday (March 21). The Gators will be among 201 schools from seven states in the annual Chandler Rotary meet on Friday (March 23) and Saturday (March 24) at Chandler High. Events will begin at approximately 9 a.m.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Xavier lacrosse enjoys playing at home

It must have seemed like a lifetime to coach Rachel D’Angelo and her Xavier Prep club lacrosse team before the Gators played their first home game of the season at Petznick Field.

After six road games, the time finally arrived on Thursday night (March 15) against Scottsdale Notre Dame Prep and it proved to be worth the wait.

Xavier built a four-goal lead by halftime and withstood a second-half rally by Notre Dame for a 9-7 victory. Xavier (3-4) had lost to the Saints 13-7 on March 12 at Notre Dame.

“We had our share of away games, so it was good to be home,’’ D’Angelo said.

Asked about the difference between the win and the contest earlier in the week, she said, “We played more as a team and had a ton more patience on offense.

“We have improved a lot since our first game of the season. We played well tonight and it shows that our basic skills have improved a lot.’’

Senior Caylie Wagner led the Gators with a hat trick, while sophomore Nina Mackey and junior Sarah Minton had two goals apiece. The other two goals were scored by junior Emma Tawney and sophomore Tara Kobierowski.

Sophomore Tanya Barakat had a decent game in goal and junior Grace Martinez showed a great deal of aggressiveness throughout at both ends of the field.

It was Wagner’s final goal of the night, with 3:17 left in the game, that turned a precarious one-goal advantage into the more comfortable two-goal margin that proved to be the difference in the final score.

Wagner took the ball to the right of the goal and as a defender rushed her, spun away and was in the clear for what nearly was a point-blank shot. It looked almost like some sort of basketball move. The opponent appeared stunned.

D’Angelo smiled at the thought of the last goal.

“She has tried a lot of those. She likes them and probably will try it again,’’ the coach said.

Next up for the Gators is perhaps their biggest challenge yet. They are at home again on Monday night (March 19) against league-leading Scottsdale Chaparral. The Firebirds (5-0) have given up just 17 goals in their five games.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Equestrian journey a success for XCP freshman

Xavier Prep freshman Ava Todd is doing whatever she can to become a consummate equestrian rider, and the results speak volumes.

She has been riding competitively for nearly a year after two previous years of introduction to the sport, primarily through lessons, and recently was awarded with a letter (similar to letters in other sports) for those accomplishments.

The letter was bestowed by the U.S. Hunter Jumper Association, which is affiliated with the U.S. Equestrian Federation. Since many high schools/middle schools do not have official equestrian clubs/groups, these letters/awards can help fill the void for the participants.

The evaluation comes in the “Hunters and Equitation’’ category. In the “hunters’’ part of the equation, judges evaluate the horses, including how the animal reacts to what the rider is asking it to do. The equitation portion is the evaluation of the rider and how easy they make the action look and getting the horse to do what they want it to do.

To be eligible for a letter, riders must have 100 hours of approved saddle time and participated in at least three competitive events.

Todd rides four days a week, on Saturdays and Sundays and on two weekdays after school.
XCP freshman Ava Todd with her newly minted equestrian letter (photo courtesy of Kathleen Gannon).
“You learn something new every time,’’ she said.

It’s been a life of learning new things for Todd. The Phoenix area is her family’s sixth different home as the result of her father’s employment, and No. 7 will follow later this year when they move to St. Louis.

Todd admits that it can be difficult to develop friendships in such a short time and adjust to different school curriculums, but she continues to proceed with a positive outlook. She also has lived in Canada and Kentucky.

She has gained a few friends who ride out of the same facility in Scottsdale, and they will be riding in an annual spring show toward the end of March.

The riders are required to do several tasks associated with such an endeavor, such as brushing and feeding their horses, putting the saddles on. They do get occasional assistance from people working at the “barn,’’ helping to keep the stalls clean.

A friendship/working relationship also must be developed with the horses themselves.

“It’s a trust thing,’’ Todd said. “It’s not just you. It’s a partnership.’’

She has ridden a horse named River for quite some time, but about three weeks ago switched to another horse named Quinley and said she is feeling more comfortable with it.

In order to succeed, a rider must have family support and Todd has that.

“I am very grateful for everything they do for me,’’ she said.

She also is thankful for her teachers and guidance she has received from Xavier school counselor Kathleen Gannon.

“I love riding, but I know I must keep school a priority,’’ Todd said. “I need to focus on that. It is challenging sometimes going from (riding) competition one day to a quiz in school the next.’’

And although it might be a bit early to think about what might transpire for her beyond high school, the thought has drifted through Todd’s mind.

“I haven’t decided if I will continue riding at the end of high school, but I know there are some good programs in college and some barns in those areas where I could bring my horse and ride,’’ she said.

She wants to finish this school year as strong as she can and move on with good memories of her time at Xavier.

Perhaps that could be explained by the message hanging on the wall of Gannon’s office:

It’s the friends we meet along the way that help us appreciate the journey.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Walls crumble, Xavier softball tumbles

It was fun while it lasted.

Xavier Prep’s softball team had a 1-0 lead through the first four innings against host Glendale Mountain Ridge on Monday (March 12), but could not make it last.

The walls crumbled as Mountain Ridge scored five times in the fifth inning and six times in the sixth for an 11-2 victory.

Xavier, which had won two in a row prior to this one, dropped to 2-7-2.

The Gators scored their first run in the first inning.

Lizzie Marino led off with a single, advanced to second on an infield hit by Sydney Johnson, went to third on a groundout by Melissa Fedorka and scored on a sacrifice fly by Jordan Bassett.

XCP played good defense and even turned a defensive miscue into a big out in the fourth. One Mountain Ridge runner was aboard by way of a single. She advanced to third on a pair of steals. A fly ball was hit to right for an out.

The runner thought about tagging up but went back to third as the throw came back in. The throw was wide into a side fence near the Xavier dugout and then the runner tried to score. Xavier retrieved the ball and got it to pitcher Mercedes Silva covering the plate, and the runner was out.

The Mountain Ridge fifth began with a groundout and then a hit batter. The Mountain Lions brought 10 players to the plate and had three hits to take a 5-1 lead.

Bassett drove in her second run of the game with one out in the sixth on a home run to right center field.

Mountain Ridge sent 11 hitters to the plate in the sixth, scoring six runs on five hits to fortify its lead.

Xavier now takes a one-week break before returning to action on March 20 with a game at Phoenix Horizon.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Track and field has solid day in AMDG meet

Friday (March 9) offered the first big-meet test for Xavier Prep’s track and field team, and the Gators posted a respectable finish in the AMDG Invitational for girls and boys at the Brophy Sports Campus.

Xavier was fourth with 5930 points in team scoring, which was tabulated in the decathlon format. The top three teams were Chandler High (7635), Chandler Hamilton (6774) and Peoria Liberty (5998).

Running races featured anywhere from three up to seven heats in the picture-perfect weather for athletes and fans alike. In addition to medals for the top three finishers, Nike presented gifts of athletic bags, bags for spikes and socks.

Top individual finisher was junior Jada Sims in the high hump, who was second with a height of 5-4. That helped the Gators tie for first in the team category with Glendale Mountain Ridge.

IMDG Invitational

Xavier results

Shot put – Joyce Karekezi, Sr., 20th (27-1 ½), Gisselle Bojorquez, Jr., 33rd (24-11), Kendall Swanson, So., 36th (13-6).

Long jump – Kolbe Pierce, Jr., 16th (15-8 ½), Mariah Morales, Jr., 36th (13-8), Ciara Quiambao, Fr., 38th (13-6).

Pole vault – Molly Cahill, Jr., 15th (7-0).

High jump – Jada Sims, Jr., 2nd (5-4), Izzy Estes, Sr., 27th (4-6).

Discus – Bojorquez, 25th (71-2), Swanson, 34th (66-8), Janna Hynds, 35th (66-7).

Triple jump – Eliza Mulkern, So., 20th (30-2 ½), Cahill, 26th (28-1 ½), Bethany Barnwell, Fr., 29th (27-0 ¾).

4x800 relay – Xavier “A’’, 2nd (9:56.35). Karina Hawkins, Jr., Sammy Braun, Fr., Caroline McClelland, Sr., Karina Smith, Jr. Xavier “B”, 5th (10:35.70). Karli Baker, Jr., Annika Nielson, Sr., Kristen Keeble, So., Grace Valandra, So. Xavier “C”, 10th (11:02.24). Sophia Healy, Fr., Natalia Hiler, Jr., Ryleigh Corona, Fr., Mia Alejos, Fr.

100-meter hurdles – Sims, 5th (15.35), Mulkern, 18th (18.131), Estes, 23rd (18.43).                                                                                                                                      

4x100 relay – Xavier “A’’, 8th (51.43). Bisola Ojeniyi, Sr., Ololade Adebayo, Fr., Johnnie Mitchell, Jr., Sophie Brohard, So.

400 – Megan Zacher, So., 5th (59.25), Kinsey Ehmann, Sr., 10th (1:01.53), Leila Grant, Jr., 12th (1:02.78).

800 – Hawkins, 7th (2:26.33), Braun, 8th (2:27.76), Smith, 13th (2:32.06).

100 – Mitchell, 18th (13.36), Ojeniyi, 19th (13.46), Adebayo, 20th (13.50).

1,600 – Mia Olsen, So., 5th (5:17.78), Helen Innes, Jr., 6th (5:18.31), Jamie Stelnik, Fr., 8th (5:21.19).

XCP softball wins second game in a row

Two wins in a row for Xavier softball!!

The latest triumph came on Friday (March 9), when the Gators recorded a 9-5 victory on the road over Goodyear Millennium.

Xavier (2-6-1) pounded out 19 hits. Four players each had three hits – Melissa Fedorka, Lizzie Marino, Sydney Johnson and Mercedes Silva.

Silva also was the winning pitcher, striking out 10.

Xavier will be back in action on Monday (March 12), when the Gators travel to face Glendale Mountain Ridge. First pitch is 3:45 p.m.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Softball gets first victory with a flourish

Who let the Gators out?

Xavier Prep put on quite a hitting display on Thursday (March 8), earning their first victory of the season in a 16-2 victory over visiting Phoenix Desert Vista in a contested shortened to five innings by the 10-run rule.

Xavier is now 1-6-2.

The Gators scored 12 runs in the second inning and four more in the fourth.

Xavier collected 17 hits, including four by Lizzie Marino, three by Katie Donahey (including a home run) and two each by Macy Lee, Sydney Johnson and Jordan Bassett.

Pitcher Mercedes Silva picked up the win, giving up just two hits.

Xavier will play a road game on Friday (March 9) against Goodyear Millennium.

More accolades for Xavier basketball

These Gators just keep on going!

The latest Xavier Prep basketball news has three members of the program receiving recognition by the Arizona Interscholastic Association.

XCP coach Jennifer Gillom was selected as the 6A Conference (all schools) Coach of the Year.

Senior forward Montana Oltrogge was named to the 6A First Team and junior point guard Leilani McIntosh was listed on the 6A Second Team.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Xavier beach volleyball falls against Salpointe

Xavier Prep’s beach volleyball team lost for the first time in four matches on Wednesday (March 7), falling 3-2 to Tucson Salpointe Catholic at the Tucson Racquet Club.

The Gators now have a lengthy break before returning to action on March 21 at Scottsdale Saguaro.

Light (what's left of it) shines on XCP tennis

Xavier Prep’s tennis team faced two formidable opponents on Wednesday (March 7) – Scottsdale Chaparral and rapidly fading daylight.

It would be a race to the finish to see if the host Gators could pull out a victory.

The match had been close all day. The two Division I state championship contenders split their six singles matches and each won a doubles match to make it 4-4.

So it all came down to the doubles team of Xavier’s Emily Even and Erica Stutz and Chaparral’s Gabi Moss and Cassie Seminoff.

Back and forth they went, trading points. Finally, as darkness began to set in, Even and Stutz emerged with the win, giving Xavier a 5-4 overall triumph.

Xavier's Tristanne Dechoux follows through on a return shot to Chaparral's Grace Koester during their singles match on Wednesday (Photo by Sr. Lynn Winsor).
The Gators were ecstatic and were joined by XCP athletic director Sr. Lynn Winsor for a post-match cheer.

“We needed it, and it was a true team effort,’’ said Gators coach Laurie Martin, whose team climbed to 6-1. Chaparral is 2-2. “We are very proud of the girls.’’

Another key match was the singles duel between No. 1 players, Tristanne Dechoux of Xavier and Grace Koester of Chaparral.

Koester won the first set 7—5, but then Dechoux began to find her rhythm and came away with a 6-4 win in the second set and 10-5 win in the tiebreaker.

The two had staged a similar match a year ago.

“That was big for us,’’ Martin said of Wednesday’s Dechoux win. “If she doesn’t win, then we are down 2-4 overall and have to win all three of our doubles matches.’’

Xavier will turn around and take another road trip to Phoenix Horizon for a match on Thursday (March 8).


The family of former Xavier player Jordan Craft has provided a generous gift to the program, a set of benches with canopies overhead to help the players deal with the heat between sets.



Tristanne Dechoux def. Grace Koester (C) 5-7, 6-4 (10-5).

Erica Stutz  lost to Chaparral 3-6, 5-7.

Emily Even lost to Chaparral 3-6, 6-7 (1-7).

Maddy Corley lost to Chaparral 0-6, 4-6.

Lorelei Glidden def. Chaparral 6-2, 6-2.

Kate Stegman def. Chaparral 6-2, 1-0 (opponent retired).


Dechoux-Corley lost to Chaparral 1-8.

Stutz-Even def. Chaparral 8-6.

Glidden-Kate Straneva def. Chaparral 8-2.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

XCP girls claim awards for archery, equestrian

Xavier students continue to show their excellence in all facets of the competitive process.

Two Gators recently received awards for their efforts.

Senior Kira Dean, a member of the school’s Hotshots team for archery and clay target shooting, was honored by the National Archery in Schools Program (NASP) for overcoming a major life event or disability and inspiring others.

Also, freshman Ava Todd has been given here Equestrian Letter for her work in riding and jumping. She has been working with the horses for three years.

Congratulations, Kira and Ava. You make Xavier proud!!

Big-time home run not enough for Gators

Xavier Prep softball players look forward to the day of their first victory of the season. Unfortunately, it has not arrived yet.

The Gators made another attempt on Tuesday (March 6) but couldn’t get over the top, falling 10-2 to visiting Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor.

Xavier is now 0-6-2, O’Connor 9-0-1.

Sandra Day O’Connor hit a triple to lead off the game and kept the hits coming after that, including a pair of home runs.

Xavier managed five hits, and one of them was quite noteworthy.

Pitcher Mercedes Silva, hitting left-handed in the third inning, sent a drive over the right-field fence and beyond. It went over the portable fence, then over the wrought-iron fence at the edge of the Xavier property and onto Meadowbrook Avenue. It’s a wonder that Xavier beach volleyball players across the street didn’t have to duck and cover.

Another occurrence of note came with Sandra Day O’Connor at bat in the top of the sixth inning. Melissa Fedorka went in to play shortstop, which is somewhat unusual considering she throws left-handed. But she handled a ground ball flawlessly and threw the runner out at first base. Fedorka also has played catcher and first base.

Xavier returns to action with another home game on Thursday (March 8) against Phoenix Desert Vista. First pitch is at 3:45 p.m.

Beach volleyball wins, heads to Tucson

Xavier Prep’s beach volleyball team raised its record to 3-0 on Tuesday (March 6) with a 5-0 win over visiting Queen Creek at the Cavanaugh Courts.

The Gators have a quick turnaround on Wednesday (March 7), heading to Tucson for a match against Tucson Salpointe Catholic. The contest will be played at the Tucson Racquet Club.

Tennis finishes Pinnacle, tops Red Mtn.

Xavier Prep’s tennis team has improved its record to 5-1 with two victories this week.

On Monday (March 5), the Gators finished off Phoenix Pinnacle 8-1 in a match that had been interrupted by rain on Feb. 27.

Xavier singles winners against Pinnacle were Erica Stutz, Emily Even, Maddy Corley, Lorelei Glidden, Kate Straneva and Caroline Armknecht. Doubles winners were Stutz-Even and Glidden-Armknecht.

On Tuesday (March 6), XCP came back with a 9-0 shutout of visiting Mesa Red Mountain.

Xavier has two more matches this week, on Wednesday (March 7) at home against Scottsdale Chaparral, and on Thursday (March 8) on the road against Phoenix Horizon.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Lacrosse gets first victory of season

After three road losses to begin the season, the Xavier Prep club lacrosse team played away from home again on Monday night (March 5), only this time the result was much different.

The Gators came back with an 11-6 victory at Chandler Prep.

They will be looking to make it two in a row on Friday (March 9) with a contest against Phoenix Horizon at Shea Middle School at 2728 E. Shea Blvd. in north Phoenix. Start time is 5 p.m.

Gators' Oltrogge to play in hoops All-Star Game

Xavier Prep basketball player Montana Oltrogge is one of 20 players from around the state who will play in an All-Star Game on March 17 at Talking Stick Arena (Phoenix Suns) . The game will begin at 12:10 p.m.

Good luck, Montana !!

Tennis players represent Xavier well

Xavier Prep’s tennis players were busy on Saturday (March 3) and showed well in the Kiwanis North Phoenix Invitational at the Paseo Racquet Center in Glendale.

Erica Stutz and Emily Even finished second in the gold doubles bracket. The team of Maddy Corley and Kate Straneva were 2-2 in gold doubles.

Emily Good and Caroline Armknecht were 4-0 in the silver doubles bracket and were filling in for two players from another school who were ill.

In gold singles, Lorelei Glidden and Kate Stegman both went 2-1.

A couple of additional Xavier players, Tristanne Dechoux and Jessica Mirmelli, did not play due to injuries.

The Gators have matches on three consecutive days this week. They have home matches on Tuesday (March 6) and Wednesday (March 7) with Mesa Red Mountain and Scottsdale Chaparral, respectively and travel to face Phoenix Horizon on Thursday (March 8).

Monday, March 5, 2018

Chura, Gators earn azcentral soccer honors

Xavier Prep’s Barb Chura has been named’s Coach of the Year after the Gators won their second straight 6A Conference state championship, and three of her players are candidates for Player of the Year honors.

The players are senior goalkeeper Kinsey Ehmann, junior forward-mid Kyla Ferry and senior defender Nicole Hook. The awards will be announced and presented on June 10 at the media outlet’s high school sports awards ceremony on June 10 at Arizona State’s Grady Gammage Auditorium.

In addition, senior forward Abby Hubbard was an honorable mention selection.

What a great season, and congratulations to Coach Chura and the players !!

Defending state champ defeats XCP tennis

Defending Division I team champion Scottsdale Desert Mountain handed Xavier Prep’s tennis team its first loss of the season on Friday (March 2) 6-3 at Desert Mountain.

Xavier, which fell to Desert Mountain in last year’s semifinals, had three winners, Kate Stegman and Emily Good in singles and the doubles team of Kate Straneva and Caroline Armknecht.

The Gators have three matches this week – on Tuesday (March 6) at home against Mesa Red Mountain, on Wednesday (March 7) at home against Scottsdale Chaparral, and on Thursday (March 8) at Phoenix Horizon.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Xavier dominates region hoops awards

Xavier Prep’s outstanding basketball season has been reflected in the announcement of the all-region teams in the 6A Premier.

The region’s coaches made the selections.

Xavier swept its region opponents 8-0 (twice each) and finished 25-6 overall, capping its season last week when it took state runners-up honors.

The big awards went to XCP’s Jennifer Gillom (Coach of the Year), Montana Oltrogge (Player of the Year) and Paris Moore (Defensive Player of the Year).

First-team selections were Katie Hassett and Leilani McIntosh. Addison Putnam was on the second team, and Elysia Fleetwood was honorable mention.

Way to go, Gators! A great season!

Friday, March 2, 2018

Gators begin quest for beach title No. 6

The first five times have been the charm for the Xavier Prep beach volleyball team.

Now, a new season has arrived. What are the Gators’ chances of making it six state championships in as many years the sport has been recognized as an official sport by the Arizona Interscholastic Association.

If their first two matches are any indication, fans should expect XCP to be at or near the top when the state tournament has concluded.

Xavier began the season on Wednesday (Feb. 28) with a 5-0 win over Scottsdale Notre Dame Prep and came back on Thursday (March 1) with another 5-0 defeat, this time over Surprise Willow Canyon at Surprise Community Park.

“We are where I think we should be at this point,’’ said veteran coach Tim McHale.

He does not yet appear to have slots set up for the one through five duos. That likely will come soon, perhaps when the Gators open their home season against Queen Creek at the Cavanaugh Courts on Tuesday (March 6) and travel to face Tucson Salpointe Catholic at the Tucson Racquet Club on Wednesday (March 7).

“We might be a bit more physical than we have in the past, and we are young, to some degree,’’ McHale said.

Xavier Prep 2018 beach volleyball roster

Analy Carbine, So.; Trinity Cavanaugh, Jr.; Emily Conn, Jr.; Abby Converse, So.; Ania Hiler, Fr.; Kailey Klein, Sr.; Cassie Kuhler, Jr.; Grace Lincoln, So.; Taylor Lopez, Sr.; Lauren Lykins, Jr.; Bri McKnight, So.; Zaira Reyes, Fr.; Lydia Rush, Jr.; Shea Sciarappo, Jr.; Shannon Shields, Jr.; Serena Turner, Fr.; Juli Westfall, So.

Thursday’s results

Xavier Prep 5, Surprise Willow Canyon 0

Analy Carbine-Lydia Rush def. Willow Canyon 21-11, 21-5.

Serena Turner-Abby Converse def. Willow Canyon 21-6, 21-5.

Lauren Lykins-Juli Westfall def. Willow Canyon 21-8, 21-6.

Trinity Cavanaugh-Kailey Klein def. Willow Canyon 21-7, 21-5.

Shea Sciarappo-Grace Lincoln def. Willow Canyon 21-6, 21-8.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Xavier basketball team "fought until the end'

The Monsoon from Surprise Valley Vista had been to the basketball state championship game before -- a year ago, to be exact.

And they played like it.

Xavier Prep was playing its first title game in more than 30 years.

It all added up to a second straight 6A Conference crown for Valley Vista with a 68-55 victory over XCP at Arizona State’s Wells Fargo Arena on Wednesday night (Feb. 28).

Both teams finished 25-6.

The numbers speak for themselves. Xavier made just 20 of its 60 field-goal attempts (33 percent), 10 of its 23 free-throw attempts (43.5 percent) and was outrebounded 47-34.

Junior point guard Leilani McIntosh gave it all she had, scoring 20 points before fouling out late in the contest, one of three Gators to do so. Senior forward Montana Oltrogge scored 13 points and led in rebounding with 11.

Star senior guard Taylor Chavez led Valley Vista with 22 points, guard Rysha Banner had 17 in addition to a defensive assignment on McIntosh, and freshman forward Marisa Davis had a huge night with 14 points and 18 rebounds.

Xavier coach Jennifer Gillom gave credit where credit was due.

“They (Valley Vista) had poise, they knew what to do and their defensive rotations were very difficult to go against. Their experience of being here before was huge,’’ she said.

Of her own team’s effort, she said, “Nobody expected us to be here, but we made it. All the girls worked very hard. They were here for the first time, but they fought through everything. They fought until the end. I commend them for that.’’

The Gators opened the game as if the nervousness they displayed in a semifinal win over top-seeded Goodyear Millennium had disappeared. Sparked by 3-pointers from junior Addie Putnam and McIntosh, Xavier led 16-13 after the first eight minutes.

McIntosh hit another trey early in the second quarter for a 21-18 lead, but then Valley Vista took over. The Monsoon went on an 11-0 run to take a lead they would not relinquish.

Gillom gave Oltrogge a pep talk in the tunnel before coming out for the second half.

“She’s been our leader all year and she’s done a good job,’’ Gillom said.

A large gathering of blue-clad Xavier fans continued to voice their support, but time began to creep up on the Gators in the second half.

There were about 3,000 Xavier fans, including 700 current students, as well as a number of XCP graduates.

Oltrogge’s outstanding career came to an end with 54.1 seconds left when she fouled out. Gillom hugged her as Oltrogge fought back tears. She will move on to Idaho State next season.

It was an emotional end for the Gators, but they deserve a great deal of credit for what they accomplished. They had the greatest season in school history.

Xavier scoring

Leilani McIntosh 20, Montana Oltrogge 13, Katie Hassett 7, Paris Moore 6, Payton Davis 6, Addie Putnam 3.

Bryant is among AIA honorees

Xavier Prep sports fans got a bonus on Wednesday night (Feb. 28) at halftime of the 6A Conference state championship basketball game at Arizona State’s Wells Fargo Arena.

They saw someone familiar standing on the court as the team from Tempe Corona del Sol was honored by the Arizona Interscholastic Association 25 years after winning the title in 1993.

It was none other than XCP volleyball coach Lamar-Renee Bryant, who waved to the fans and joined them in support of the Xavier basketball team against Surprise Valley Vista.

Bryant led Xavier to the 6A volleyball title last fall.

Tennis triumphs against Sunnyslope

Xavier Prep’s tennis team won for the third time this season on Wednesday (Feb. 28), defeating visiting Phoenix Sunnyslope 9-0.

On Tuesday (Feb. 27), the Gators were playing at Phoenix Pinnacle, but that match was stopped by rain and will be resumed on Monday (March 5).

The Gators have another home match on Friday (March 2) against Scottsdale Desert Mountain and will participate in the Kiwanis North Phoenix Invitational on Saturday (March 3) at the Paseo Racquet Center in Glendale.

Xavier 9, Sunnyslope 0


Lorelei Glidden def. Sunnyslope 6-2, 7-6 (7-5). Kate Straneva def. Sunnyslope 6-1, 6-1. Emily Good def. Sunnyslope 6-2, 6-0. Kate Stegman def. Sunnyslope 6-0, 6-1. Phoebe Ransco def. Sunnyslope 6-1, 6-0.


Glidden-Straneva def. Sunnyslope 8-1. Good-Armknecht def. Sunnyslope 8-0. Stegman-Ransco def. Sunnyslope 8-2.

Gator softball improves on its hitting

Xavier Prep still is looking for its first win of the season after dropping three games this week.

The Gators fell to Gilbert Perry 11-1 and Chandler Hamilton 11-0 in road games on Monday (Feb. 26) and Tuesday (Feb. 27) and returned to Petznick Field for its home opener on Wednesday (Feb. 28) to face Phoenix Pinnacle. Xavier started to hit the ball better but fell short 10-6.

Xavier returns to Petznick on March 6 for a game against Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor. First pitch is at 3:45 p.m.