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.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Tenacity pushes Gators to another softball win

As the softball season became a reality, Xavier Prep players picked a word that would carry them through any situation.

They grabbed it and have not let go.

The word is tenacious.

“The girls are tenacious. They all work together and they are not being intimidated,’’ said coach Brad Downes.

The team played its fourth game of the season on Tuesday night (March 5), and for the fourth time scored 10 or more runs in an 11-0 victory over Scottsdale Chaparral. The game went just five innings because of the 10-run (lead) rule.

Xavier is now 3-1 and will face visiting Phoenix Maryvale on Thursday (March 7).

The Gators produced 12 hits, including a three-run home run and a run-scoring triple by freshman second baseman Megan Schouten. And freshman Riley Flynn again was on target in the pitching circle, tossing a four-hitter and striking out six. She also shut out Glendale Mountain Ridge in five innings last week.

The first two innings were scoreless and then Xavier put two runs on the board in the third.

Schouten tripled off the tip of the glove of the Chaparral right fielder, bringing home one run, and Katie Donahey accounted for the second run with a long foul to left field that went for a sacrifice fly.

The floodgates opened for the Gators in the fourth.

The team went on to score nine runs on eight hits. The highlights were Schouten’s home run, again to right field, that just seemed to take off and quickly sailed over the fence, followed by three straight doubles. All runs came with only one out.

Chaparral appeared it might score first in the third inning, but a heads-up defensive play by Xavier.

With one out and a runner at first base, a Chaparral batter hit a ball straight up the chimney, high over catcher Macy Lee, who was standing near the plate. Flynn and a couple of the Xavier infielders converged, but Lee could not handle it and the ball dropped just in front of the plate. The umpire signaled fair ball.

The runner at first attemped to go to third when she thought the third-base bag was unoccupied by a defender. But Xavier left fielder Sydney Johnson had snuck in to cover the bag, took the throw and tagged the runner out.

“The way we are playing is exciting to watch,’’ Downes said.

Schouten is one of the most exciting. Despite being just a freshman, she is becoming a vocal leader.

“She has played well and we have all worked well together,’’ said Downes, who had seven underclassmen in the starting lineup against Chaparral.  That bodes well for the rest of this season and for the future.

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