Maybe, just maybe, if Xavier Prep’s softball team has enough good fortune to reach the 6A Conference state tournament this spring, the Gators can reflect back on when it all started, to an afternoon when the sun played hide and seek with the clouds and the wind chilled players and fans to the bone.
who have a new head coach in Brad Downes, a new assistant in Deryk Sexton and
only a few returnees from last season, started fresh on Tuesday (Feb. 19) at
Phoenix Arcadia with a scrimmage against the 4A Titans.
score was not kept, but if you’re still counting, anyway, Xavier came out on
It was a far
cry from last season, when the team finished 4-16-2.
assistant coach last season, was pleased by what he saw and the potential that
exists for the Gators as they open the season on Thursday (Feb. 21) in the
Sunrise Mountain Invitational at Peoria’s Pioneer Park.
permitting, Xavier will face Glendale Mountain Ridge at noon and host Sunrise
Mountain at 2 p.m. Games are on time limits. The Gators are due to meet
Goodyear Millennium on Friday (Feb. 22) at 2 p.m.
“Yes, we are
very optimistic,’’ Downes said. “We were aggressive with our hitting and
running the bases and our pitching and defense were good. We have a few things
to work on, but that’s OK.’’
wasted little time in establishing itself. Freshman outfielder/shortstop Megan
Schouten led off the scrimmage in her first at-bat as a Gator and slugged a
home run into the teeth of the wind in right-center field.
wasn’t the only freshman to excel. Infielder-catcher Bridget Donahey hit a
two-run homer in her first at-bat to left to drive in her older sister, Katie,
a junior center fielder-shortstop, who had walked. Bridget Donahey drove in two
more runs, on a double and a sacrifice fly.
Sgambati, one of two primary pitchers for the Gators (freshman Riley Flynn is
the other), escaped trouble in the bottom of the first with the help of a
double play. Bridget Donahey speared a line drive at shortstop and threw to first to catch a
runner off the bag.
senior who did not play for the Gators last season, pitched 3 1/3 innings,
giving up no runs on one hit and striking out four.
entered the game in the fourth and gave up a two-run homer to Jordyn Pender, but
was otherwise solid. Pender also drove in the third Arcadia run with a
wind-blown single in the seventh.
Flynn had a
good sense of when to put zip on the ball and when to let up and let the slower
movement of the pitch catch the batter off-guard. She surrendered just
two hits and struck out seven.
available players batted for the Gators.
players versatile enough to play more than one position, Downes should have
plenty of flexibility during the season.
for the players and I think they are excited to get started,’’ Downes said. “We
have a good group.’’
He tries not
to mention what happened last year. He wants the players to concentrate on
is “Better,’ ’’ he said. “We have team and individual goals, but it’s all about
the process. If we do the process right, we will win more games.’’
2018-19 Xavier Prep softball roster
Head coach – Brad Downes. Assistant coach – Deryk Sexton.
Andrade, So., 3B-SS; Cara Coffman, Sr., INF; Bridget Donahey, Fr., SS-C-3B;
Katie Donahey, Jr., CF-SS; Riley Flynn, Fr., RF-P; Sydney Johnson, So., LF;
Macy Lee, So., C-INF; Cameron Martin, Jr., RF-2B; Amaris Mori, Jr., C-3B; Kylie
Rodgers, Sr., P; Analisa Roman, Sr., 1B; Ashlee Sanchez, Sr., RF-2B; Megan
Schouten, Fr., OF-SS; Marisa Sgambati, Sr., P-1B; Elliot Smith, Fr., 1B-C-OF.