Bio

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 AIA365.com, the web site of the Arizona Interscholastic Association.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Gillom joins Mercury, yet remains as Gators' coach

The pillar of Xavier Prep’s basketball program is remaining firmly in place.

Jennifer Gillom, who just finished the second year of her second tour of duty as the Gators’ head coach, will remain here after taking a job as a player development coach with the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, for whom she played from 1997-2002.

The situation afforded her an opportunity to work at both jobs. Gillom has a 185-36 record at Xavier from 2004-09 and 2017-18 and 2018-19, finishing as 6A Conference state runner-up the last two seasons with a 55-11 mark.


Jennifer Gillom (Xavier photo).
Gillom is happy to be able to do both.

She also has been a head coach in the WNBA, for the Minnesota Lynx and Los Angeles Sparks and has been a coach with the U.S. Olympic Team. She won Gold Medals as a player and an assistant coach.

“I have always enjoyed working in player development, helping the young players,’’ she said Monday (April 29). “I’ll be around (the Mercury) a lot, maybe at some games, but I won’t be traveling.

“There is also something very rewarding to continue to be here at Xavier. It means a lot to be here. I have invested a lot in this program. I can continue to work on fulfilling our goal of winning a state championship.

“Xavier is a great school to be a part of and I plan to retire here.’’

She will continue to lead the Xavier team in the Thunderbird (High) Summer League in north Phoenix – the Gators won their division in 2018.

“And before you know it, a new (regular) season will be here,’’ she said.

Xavier athletic director Sr. Lynn Winsor said she was contacted by the team and Gillom about the dual roles.

“It (Mercury job) will basically be a few hours a week working with post players,’’ Winsor said. “She told me that it won’t interfere with what she is doing for us. I am excited for her.

“She has done a tremendous job for us. She has a great coaching style and you can tell by the way she treats the players. She teaches them to work hard but still have fun. She has a great attitude, great sportsmanship and the kids are the same way.’’

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Title chances evaporate for singles, doubles

What began as a blue sky full of possibilities on Saturday (April 27) ended up in a pile of rubble for Xavier Prep tennis.

The Gators had participants in the Division I state singles and doubles competition in the quarterfinals and semifinals with the hopes of advancing to title matches on Monday night (April 29) at Arizona State’s Whiteman Tennis Center.

Senior Tristanne Dechoux, the No. 2 seed in singles, won her quarterfinal match against Chandler Hamilton’s seventh-seeded Shivika Agrawal, 6-0, 6-2, but hours later found herself on the wrong side of a 6-3, 6-7, 2-6 score in the semifinals against Scottsdale Desert Mountain’s third-seeded Savanna Kollock.

There is a good reason why Desert Mountain is the two-time defending state champion and the top seed in the team tournament – with players like Kollock and top-seeded teammate Josie Frazier, who will play for the singles title at ASU.

And the day almost ended before it began for Xavier’s third-seeded doubles team of junior Erica Stutz and freshman Ryan Kershner. They were battling Phoenix Pinnacle’s Elizabeth Vijan and Ava Kester and trailing 5-4 in the first set of their quarterfinal when Stutz developed a migraine headache and could not continue, giving the match to Pinnacle.

An unfortunate turn of events, indeed.

Dechoux looked strong in her first semifinal set, then things began to unravel. Dechoux was so upset about the loss in the second set that she had to take additional time to compose herself before starting the third set in temperatures that hovered in the mid-to-upper 90s. Kollock continued to apply the pressure and completed the task.

Team tennis – Xavier’s second-seeded team will host a quarterfinal match on Tuesday (April 30) against No. 7 Phoenix Horizon. Start time is 3 p.m.

The winner will advance to the semifinals on Friday (May 3) starting at noon at Scottsdale Ranch Park.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Xavier lacrosse loses grip, falls to Hamilton

Whether it’s sharpening their fingernails or perhaps something else, the Xavier Prep club lacrosse team needs to get a better grip to achieve more success.

The Gators put a lot of effort into a season that ended on Friday night’s (April 26) Senior Night at Petznick Field with an 8-7 loss to Chandler Hamilton in overtime. The team, which finished at 5-9, needs to find a way to win those close games.

Five of the Gators’ losses were by just one goal, and a sixth by two.

Against Hamilton, which they had defeated 9-7 in an earlier match on April 5, the Gators had a 7-5 lead in the second half, but saw that evaporate. Hamilton (7-7) forced the contest into overtime and won it with 55 seconds left in the first three-minute extra session.

“It has been the story of our season,’’ said Xavier coach Jen Nevatt. “We have had a lot of close games.

“We had a lot of talent with our underclassmen, and hopefully they will be able to keep their skills sharp going into next season. There are some club programs and some colleges that have clinics. We also will need to have mental and physical endurance.’’

She will be sorry to see the current group of seniors move on.

“They played with so much heart this year. They will be missed next year,’’ she said.

At the top of that list are Grace Martinez and Sarah Minton, who scored two goals apiece. Junior Caroline Andreen also scored twice and the other goal was by junior Nina Mackey.

With a win on Friday night, Xavier could have claimed the sixth and final playoff spot in the 10-team Arizona Girls Lacrosse Association, but Hamilton will get that instead. Scottsdale Chaparral and Phoenix Pinnacle are the top two seeds and earn first-round byes. Hamilton is expected to play No. 3 Scottsdale Notre Dame Prep in the first round and No. 5 Tempe Corona del Sol likely will face No. 4 Phoenix Desert Vista.

Gator tennis players pass initial state test

Xavier’s two entries in the Division I state tennis singles and doubles tournament remain alive after second-round victories on Friday (April 26).

Senior singles player Tristanne Dechoux, the No. 2 seed, had received a first-round bye and defeated Chandler Hamilton’s Nidhi Pulicherla 6-1, 6-1 in her second-round match at the Gene Autry Sports Complex in east Mesa.

The third-seeded XCP doubles team of junior Erica Stutz and freshman Ryan Kershner also had a first-round bye and defeated Anthem Boulder Creek’s Taylor Kyle and Darlene Maitern 6-0, 6-1 in the second round.

The tournament shifts to the Paseo Racquet Center in Glendale for Saturday’s (April 27) quarterfinals and semifinals. Championship matches will be held on Monday night (April 29) at Arizona State’s Whiteman Tennis Center in Tempe.

Singles and doubles quarterfinals have check-in at 1 p.m., with the matches to follow shortly thereafter. Semifinals are at 4:30 p.m.

Dechoux will face another Hamilton player in the quarters, No. 7 seed Shivika Agrawal. If she reaches the semis, Dechoux would meet either No. 3 Savannah Kollock of Scottsdale Desert Mountain or No. 6 Tanri Nerendran of Tucson Rincon.

Stutz and Kershner will play No. 6 Elizabeth Vijan and Ava Kester of Phoenix Pinnacle in the quarters. The winner will move on to the semis against either No. 2 Hailey Stelson and McKenna Koenig of Desert Mountain or unseeded Sophia Reitano and Katie Dussault of Hamilton.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Young Gators are good enough for No. 4 seed

A truly remarkable season continues next week for Xavier Prep’s softball team when the Gators host a first-round 6A Conference state tournament game on Tuesday (April 30).

This season has been remarkable because Xavier struggled through a 4-16 season in 2018 and now is 15-3. The Gators were the 23rd seed but fell to host Tucson High in the last year’s “play-in’’ round, but on Thursday (April 25) were announced by the Arizona Interscholastic Association as the No. 4 seed in 6A behind Phoenix Pinnacle, Chandler Hamilton and Mesa Red Mountain.

In the first round, Xavier will face No. 13 seed Queen Creek, which is riding a bit of momentum of its own. The Bulldogs were tied with No. 20 seed Mesa Westwood in a play-in game on Wednesday (April 24), but darkness halted the contest and the teams had to return on Thursday. Queen Creek escaped with a 7-6 victory in nine innings.

If Xavier defeats Queen Creek, it would face a big challenge in the second round on May 2. The Gators would host the winner of a first-round game between No. 12 Tucson High and No. 5 Gilbert Perry.

Xavier and Perry played twice during the regular season and split two games. Perry won the first meeting at Xavier 5-4, and when the teams played at Perry a few days later, Xavier returned the favor and won on Perry’s field, 14-6.

Xavier features a lineup of talented underclassmen, led by pitcher Riley Flynn, shortstop Bridget Donahey, infielder Megan Schouten (all freshmen) and sophomore catcher Macy Lee.

Brad Downes took over as head coach this season, and is assisted by Maddison Johnson and Derek Sexton.

The first two rounds of the state tournament are single-elimination, with a shift to a double-elimination competition thereafter.


6A Conference state tournament

First round, at site of highest seed

(Seedings in parentheses)

Tuesday, April 30

All games, 4 p.m., unless noted.

A Bracket: Tolleson High (16) at Phoenix Pinnacle (1), Scottsdale Chaparral (9) at Surprise Shadow Ridge (8), Tucson High (12) at Gilbert Perry (5), Queen Creek (13) at Xavier Prep (4).

B Bracket: Mesa Desert Ridge (15) at Chandler Hamilton (2), Tempe Corona del Sol (10) at Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor (7), Phoenix Mountain Pointe (11) at Yuma Cibola (6), Phoenix Desert Vista (14) at Mesa Red Mountain (3), 7 p.m.

Second round, at site of highest seed

Thursday, May 2

All games, 4 p.m.

A Bracket: Tolleson-Pinnacle winner vs. Chaparral-Shadow Ridge winner, Tucson-Perry winner vs. Queen Creek-Xavier Prep winner.

B Bracket: Desert Ridge-Hamilton winner vs. Corona del Sol-Sandra Day O’Connor winner, Mountain Pointe-Cibola winner vs. Desert Vista-Red Mountain winner.

Track & field has productive tune-up before state

Xavier Prep finished a solid third out of 18 track and field teams in the annual Northeast Valley Championships that wrapped up on Wednesday (April 24) at Phoenix Horizon.

The Gators earned 87 points, just three behind second-place Phoenix Pinnacle. Phoenix North Canyon scored a comfortable 152 points to win it.

It was the final tune-up for the Division I state meet, which will be held May 1 and May 4 at Mesa Community College.

Xavier had four individual winners – Senior Jada Sims in the high jump and long jump, Sophomore Sophie Brohard in the 400 meters and Junior Mia Olsen in the 3,200 meters.

Olson also finished second in the 1,600, Sims finished third in the 100-meter hurdles and fourth in the 300-meter hurdles. Sophomore Jamie Stelnik finished second in the 3,200 and Xavier’s 400-meter and 800-meter relay teams finished second.


Northeast Valley Championships

Xavier results

400-meter run – Sophie Brohard, Jr., 1st (57.11).

800-meter run – Karina Hawkins, Sr., 10th (2:25.59).

1,600-meter run – Mia Olsen, Jr., 2nd (5:14.45), Jamie Stelnik, So., 6th (5:18.62), Sammy Braun, So., 9th (5:29.06), Brooke Bream, So., 11th (5:36.79).

3,200-meter run – Mia Olsen, Jr., 1st (11:20.46), Jamie Stelnik, So., 2nd (11:21.87), Ansley Burns, Fr., 10th (12:24.62), Grace Valandra, Jr., 15th (12:41.15).

100-meter hurdles – Jada Sims, Sr., 3rd (15.26).

300-meter hurdles – Jada Sims, Sr., 4th (45.86), Leila Grant, Sr., 8th (49.42).

400-meter relay – Xavier Prep 2nd (4:06.33). Johnnie Mitchell, Maria Benitez, Sophie Brohard, Karina Hawkins.

800-meter relay – Xavier Prep 2nd (9:58.44). Sophie Brohard, Maria Benitez, Sammy Braun, Karina Hawkins.

Shot put – Janna Hynds, Sr., 17th (27-7 ½), Jozlin Tanner, So., 19th (27-4 ½), Kendall Swanson, Jr., 23rd (25-7).

Discus – Janna Hynds, Sr., 17th (78-11), Maeve Jones, Sr., 20th (76-3), Bethany Barnwell, So., 24th (66-9).

Javelin – Bethany Barnwell, So., 18th (70-1), Maddy Skrovan, Jr., 20th (69-9), Janna Hynds, Sr., 22nd (67-10).

High jump – Jada Sims, Sr., 1st (5-6), Ellie Higgins, Fr., 13th (4-6), Sofi Valencia, Fr., 13th (4-6).

Pole vault – Macy Kerwin, So., 10th (7-6).

Long jump – Jada Sims, Sr., 1st (17-11), Sofi Valencia, Fr., 12th (15-3 ¼).

Beach volleyball moves on to state semis

Xavier Prep’s beach volleyball team played a Division I state tournament match for the second straight day on Wednesday (April 24), and the Gators emerged victorious in a quarterfinal pairing at XCP’s Cavanaugh Courts.

Top-seeded Xavier defeated ninth-seeded Buckeye Verrado 4-1 to advance to Tuesday’s (April 30) semifinal against fifth-seeded Goodyear Millennium at Queen Creek Casteel High (Power and Riggs roads). First serve is at 7 p.m.

Defending champion Gilbert Perry, the second seed, will square off against No. 3 Tempe Corona del Sol in the other semifinal, also at Casteel.

In the 2017 Division I title match, Xavier defeated Millennium to claim its sixth title in the history of the sport in Arizona before falling to Perry in the 2018 quarterfinals.

Against Verrado, Xavier (13-0) got two-set victories from its No. 5, No. 3, No. 2 and No. 1 teams, while its No. 4 duo fell in three sets.

The No. 5 team of Analy Carbine and Katie Anthony picked up a 21-8, 21-6 victory. The No. 4 team of Shea Sciarappo and Grace Lincoln won their first match, 21-17, but fell in the next two, 21-18 and 15-10.

The No. 3 pairing of Lydia Rush and Tori Burton won, 21-17 and 21-14. The No. 2 team of Abby Converse and Serena Turner won, 21-13 and 21-11, with Converse providing the exclamation point with a service ace to the back corner, just inside the line.

And the No. 1 team of Trinity Cavanaugh and Shannon Shields rolled to a 21-10, 21-11 triumph, with a kill by Shields between two opponents in the middle of the court securing the second set and the overall match.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

"One round at a time' for XCP tennis

Xavier Prep’s approach in the Division I state team tennis tournament is simple.

“One round at a time, one team at a time,’’ said Gators coach Laurie Martin.

The second-seeded Gators took care of the first one on Tuesday (April 23) with a 5-0 win over visiting 15th-seeded Surprise Shadow Ridge to highlight Senior Day.

With the individual singles and doubles brackets looming on Friday (April 26) and Saturday (April 27), the team portion of the tournament won’t resume until April 30. That is when the Gators will host a quarterfinal match against seventh-seeded Phoenix Horizon.

Xavier (15-0) played Horizon on March 14 at XCP and won 8-1.

Xavier did not need to dip into doubles play against Shadow Ridge, and got singles victories from seeds 2 through 6.

They were No. 2 Erica Stutz (6-1, 6-0), No. 3 Ryan Kershner (6-0, 6-2), No. 4 Lorelei Glidden (6-0, 6-0), No. 5 Kate Stegman (6-1, 6-0), and No. 6 Emilia Chrostowski (6-0, 6-0). No. 1 player Tristanne Dechoux was still playing her contest when the outcome of the match had been decided, so she did not need to finish.

Martin said some of her players practiced over the recent spring break while others chose to relax.

“So we came out today, looked good and did what we needed to do. Now it’s on to the next phase,’’ she said.

Note -- Dechoux will be the No. 2 seed in singles when individual play begins on Friday at Gene Autry Park in east Mesa (McKellips near Greenfield). Stutz and Kershner will be the third-seeded doubles team.

The Xavier players will receive a first-round bye. If they win their second-round matches, they would advance to Saturday’s action, which will feature quarterfinal and semifinal rounds at the Paseo Racquet Center in Glendale (63rd Ave. and Thunderbird).

Xavier athletes will be all over the map

Wednesday (April 24) was another great day for Xavier Prep athletes.

The Gators had eight girls sign national letters of intent to study and play at seven schools across the country and one international institution, in St. Andrews, Scotland.

They were golf’s Tristaanne Dechoux (University of New Orleans, will study psychology), track and cross country’s Helen Innes (University of St. Andrews, Scotland, international relations), lacrosse’s Grace Martinez  (University of Colorado/Colorado Springs, business), soccer’s Katelynn McGee (University of Hawaii/Hilo, pre-law), volleyball’s Hayley Nash (College of Wooster, Ohio, architecture),  basketball’s Paris Rasheed-Moore (College of St. Benedict, St. Joseph, Minn., biochemistry), tennis’ Samantha Salim (Arizona Christian University, biology), and golf’s Eve Worden (U.S. Naval Academy, political science).

Congratulations to all of these outstanding student-athletes !!

Gators get first-round win in state beach v-ball

Xavier Prep’s beach volleyball team appears to be ready for the challenge in the Division I state tournament.

The top-seeded Gators looked strong and efficient against No. 16 Scottsdale Chaparral, earning a 5-0 victory onk Tuesday (April 23) at XCP’s Cavanaugh Courts.

Xavier (12-0) has a quick turnaround on Wednesday (April 24) with a quarterfinal match at home against No. 9 seed Buckeye Verrado. Start time is 4:30 p.m.

The winner will advance to the D-I semifinals on April 30 at 7 p.m. at Queen Creek Casteel.

Tuesday’s first-round results

No. 5 – Analy Carbine-Katie Anthony def. Chaparral, 21-7, 21-6. No. 4 – Shea Sciarappo-Grace Lincoln def. Chaparral, 21-8, 17-21, 15-12. No. 3 – Lydia Rush-Tori Burton def. Chaparral, 21-14, 21-6. No. 2 – Serena Turner-Abby Conrad def. Chaparral, 21-16, 21-15. No. 1 – Shannon Shields-Trinity Cavanaugh def. Chaparral, 21-14, 21-12.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Dechoux, Stutz-Kershner get tennis byes


Sandwiched in between rounds 1 and 2 of the Division I state team tennis tournament is state competition involving the top singles and doubles players.

In the singles and doubles event that begins Friday (April 26) at the Gene Autry Sports Complex in east Mesa, Xavier received first-round byes for its two teams.

Xavier’s hope in singles rides with senior Tristanne Dechoux, with the No. 2 seed. She will play her first match on Friday at 1:30 p.m. against the winner of an earlier first-round match between Nidhi Pulicherla of Chandler Hamilton and Natalie Esparza of Goodyear Millennium.

The Gators’ doubles team will be junior Erica Stutz and freshman Ryan Kershner, who have the No. 3 seed. They will take the court at 1:30 p.m. against the winner of an earlier match between Anthem Boulder Creek’s Taylor Kile and Darlene Maitem and Marana’s Aubrey Oldham and Brinley Miller.

Friday’s second-round winners will move on to Saturday’s (April 27) quarterfinals at the Paseo Racquet Center in Glendale. Quarterfinals are at 1:30 p.m. and semifinals are at 4:30 p.m.

Championship matches will be held Monday (April 29) at a site to be determined.

The first round of the Division I team tennis tournament will be held on Tuesday (April 23) with the second round held on April 30. Xavier, the No. 2 seed, will host No. 15 Surprise Shadow Ridge in the first round at 3 p.m.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Gators get No. 1 seed in beach volleyball

Numero uno. You can’t get much better than that.

A No. 1 seeding in the state tournament, puts you in a position to run the table, and that is what Xavier Prep would like to do, starting on Tuesday (April 23) as the top Division I beach volleyball seed as the Arizona Interscholastic Association released its tournament brackets for divisions I and II on Friday (April 19).

Xavier, which won the state championship in the first six years of the sport in Arizona before falling in the early rounds last season, has an 11-0 record and will host the 16th-seeded team, Scottsdale Chaparral, at the Cavanaugh Courts.

Xavier defeated Chaparral 4-1 in Scottsdale on March 22.

If the Gators win again in the first round of the single-elimination tournament, they would host a quarterfinal match on Wednesday (April 24) against the winner of a first-round match between No. 9 Buckeye Verrado and No. 8 Queen Creek Casteel at Casteel. The state semifinals and finals also will be at Casteel.

Including Chaparral, Xavier has defeated seven of the tournament’s 16 teams.


Division I beach volleyball state tournament bracket

First round, April 23 – All matches at 4:30 p.m.

(Seedings in parentheses)

Scottsdale Chaparral (16) at Xavier Prep (1), Buckeye Verrado (9) at Queen Creek Casteel (8), Phoenix Desert Vista (12) at Goodyear Millennium (5), Chandler Hamilton (13) at Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor (4), Phoenix Mountain Pointe (14) at Tempe Corona del Sol (3), Glendale Deer Valley (11) at Phoenix Sunnyslope (6), Oro Valley Ironwood Ridge (10) at Anthem Boulder Creek (7), Gilbert High (15) at Gilbert Perry (2).


Quarterfinals, April 24 – All matches at 4:30 p.m.

(Matches at higher seed)

Chaparral-Xavier Prep winner vs. Verrado-Casteel winner, Desert Vista-Millennium winner vs. Hamilton-Sandra Day O’Connor winner, Mountain Pointe-Corona del Sol winner vs. Deer Valley-Sunnyslope winner, Ironwood Ridge-Boulder Creek winner vs. Gilbert High-Perry winner.


Semifinals, April 30 at Queen Creek Casteel – Both matches at 7 p.m.


Finals, May 2 at Casteel --  7 p.m.




Thursday, April 18, 2019

Tennis No. 2 seed at state; Beach learns fate soon

One Xavier spring sports team has learned its state tournament seeding and another will find out where it will begin the postseason on Friday (April 19).

The tennis team will be the No. 2 seed behind two-time defending state champion Scottsdale Desert Mountain when the Division I team tournament begins on Tuesday (April 23) at seeds 1 through 8.

The individual singles and doubles portion of the tournament will begin on April 26, and the teams will return to second-round action on April 30.

Xavier will open play against 15th-seeded Surprise Shadow Ridge. If Xavier wins that one, it would host a second-round match against the winner of a first-round match between No. 10 Anthem Boulder Creek and No. 7 Phoenix Horizon.

Beach volleyball has a strong chance to be the top seed when the Arizona Interscholastic Association announces its Division I pairings on Friday at noon (live stream).

Xavier (11-0) won six of the first seven beach state titles. The Gators will host a first-round match at Cavanaugh Courts on Tuesday (April 23) at 4:30 p.m. If Xavier wins, it would host a quarterfinal match on Wednesday (April 24).


Division I girls tennis

First-round pairings

Seedings in parentheses – All matches are April 23 at 3 p.m.

Phoenix Central (16) at Scottsdale Desert Mountain (1), Phoenix Pinnacle (9) at Tempe Corona del Sol (8), Mesa Mountain View (12) at Tucson Rincon (5), Peoria Centennial (13) at Chandler Hamilton (4), Yuma Cibola (14) at Scottsdale Chaparral (3), Phoenix Desert Vista (11) at Gilbert Perry (6), Anthem Boulder Creek (10) at Phoenix Horizon (7), Surprise Shadow Ridge (15) at Xavier Prep (2).

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Softball's Bridget Donahey earns Player of Week

Last week was a big week for Xavier Prep softball player Bridget Donahey and people certainly noticed.

The Arizona Prep Spotlight TV program has selected the freshman shortstop as its Softball Player of the Week for her efforts in the first game of a two-game series against Chandler High’s Wolves.

In the game at Xavier’s Petznick Field on April 11, Donahey hit a solo home run to get things going for the Gators. After seeing Chandler rally for a lead late in the game, Xavier tied it in the bottom of the seventh and won it in the ninth as Donahey hit a shot down the third-base line off the third baseman’s glove to drive in Meghan Schouten with the game-winner.

Congratulations, Bridget, and may you and the Gators continue to display your magic in the upcoming 6A Conference state tournament !!

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Beach v-ball could get top seed at state

After stumbling in the quarterfinals while making a bid to win their seventh straight Division I beach volleyball crown last season, Xavier Prep’s Gators are back on course as they attempt to reclaim what they feel is rightfully theirs – the state title trophy.

On Friday (April 12), they completed the first step toward that goal – an unbeaten regular season – with a 5-0 win over Phoenix Mountain Pointe at Kiwanis Park in Tempe.

Now the 11-0 Gators will wait for the Arizona Interscholastic Association to put together its state tournament brackets, likely around Easter weekend. Xavier sits atop the power-points rankings with Gilbert Perry No. 2. Xavier fell to Perry in last year’s quarterfinals but came back to defeat the Pumas earlier this season.

Xavier will hold a couple of practices early next week, which is during the school’s Spring Break, then “recharge,’’ according to coach Tim McHale, before resuming practices leading up to the state tournament opener on April 23. A handful of the girls will be involved with club volleyball activities next week.

McHale said he took a cautious approach to facing Mountain Pointe, “because they are very athletic, well-coached and can sneak up on you.’’

In one of the first matches of the day, Mountain Pointe proved to be a challenge for the Gators.

Xavier’s No. 5 pair of Zaira Reyes and Katie Anthony took the first game 21-8, but Mountain Pointe recovered to earn a 21-19 win in Game 2. Xavier won the decisive Game 3, 15-10.

On the court next door, the No. 4 duo of Grace Lincoln and Shea Sciarappo defeated the Pride by nearly identical 21-15 and 21-16 scores.

At No. 3 were Analy Carbine and Tori Burton, who triumphed 21-8 and 21-12. Carbine, a junior, continues her late-season rise after being sidelined early with an illness. McHale said he can plug her into the lineup at almost any spot and still get a quality effort.

Next was the No. 2 combo of Abby Converse and Serena Turner. They won, 21-5 and 21-17, and are good enough to be No. 1 on many teams, particularly with Turner using her height advantage (the sophomore is 6-1) to keep opponents on their heels with blocks.

And in the top spot are seniors Trinity Cavanaugh and Shannon Shields. They use their agility and all-out effort to reach the ball where some others can’t. They wrapped up the match with a 21-16, 21-16 victory.

XCP softball gives that something extra again

Thursday night’s (April 11) softball game between Xavier Prep and Chandler High was such a good one, lasting nine innings, the teams must have figured they would play more extra innings  on Friday (April 12).

The result was the same, as Xavier won its second straight with a 6-4 triumph in eight innings, leaving the Gators with a 15-3 record at the end of the regular season.

The Gators should be able to get a bit of rest during Spring Break next week, then begin practice in preparation for their first-round 6A Conference state tournament game on April 30. Xavier is expected to have a home game in the first round and possibly the second.

Xavier continues to hit the ball with authority. The team put 14 hits on the board in Friday’s win, with freshman infielder Meghan Schouten and sophomore catcher Macy Lee hitting home runs.

Sisters Katie and Bridget Donahey combined for eight of Xavier’s hits. Katie Donahey’s effort included a double.

The eighth inning was set up by two Xavier runs in the top of the seventh and a run by Chandler in the bottom of the seventh to tie it.

Freshman Riley Flynn pitched the win for Xavier. She pitched all 17 innings for the Gators in the two games against Chandler.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Winning rally saves Senior Night softball

Everybody was hyped up for softball’s Senior Night on Thursday night (April 11), and there was never a dull moment when Xavier Prep and Chandler High met at Petznick Field.

Xavier took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on a home run by freshman shortstop Bridget Donahey, led 3-1 before Chandler rallied and took the lead, then battled back to tie it in the bottom of the seventh and won it 5-4 on a hit by Donahey in the bottom of the ninth as the contest went extra innings.

Xavier (14-3) maintained its hold on the No. 6 spot in the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s power rankings, while Chandler fell to 11-12. Xavier will finish its regular season on Friday (April 12) when it faces Chandler again, this time at Chandler.

Seniors Ashee Sanchez, Cara Coffman, Analisa Roman, Marisa Sgambati and Kylie Rodgers were honored following the game, and the five presented roses to Chandler senior players before the game.

It was a special night for Rodgers, who threw the ceremonial first pitch. A pitcher early in her career at Xavier, she survived a courageous battle with cancer and is serving as the team manager this season.

Donahey’s homer was her 10th of the season.

Chandler tied it in the top of the fourth on a double, an infield hit and an error.

Hits by Cameron Martin and Elliot Smith gave Xavier a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the fourth. Chandler tied it again in the fifth on a two-run homer by Lilly Saucedo. A solo shot to center in the sixth by Brianna Williams, who served as the Wolves’ second pitcher of the night, gave Chandler a 4-3 lead.

Xavier was on the verge of tying it in the bottom of the sixth when catcher Macy Lee hit a triple to right to lead off, but the courtesy runner was stranded at third as Williams recorded three straight outs.

Gators freshman pitcher Riley Flynn got into the action in the seventh with an RBI double that scored Meghan Schouten. The hit went into the gap between left and center and appeared it also would score Donahey, who had been walked intentionally, with the winning run, but the hit was ruled a ground-rule double.

Flynn escaped a jam in the top of the eighth, leaving the bases loaded.

In the decisive ninth, Schouten led off with a solid single to left and was sacrificed to second by Donahey’s older sister, Katie. Bridget Donahey hit a hot smash down the third-base line that went off the defender’s glove in fair territory and landed down the line in foul ground.

Xavier coach Brad Downes, coaching at third, waved his arm around like a windmill for Schouten to keep going and she reached the plate with plenty of time to beat the throw.

Never a dull moment for these Gators.

It's on to state tennis tourney for 14-0 Gators

Xavier Prep’s had another big finish to its regular season on Thursday (April 11).

The Gators earned their 14th victory without a loss with a 9-0 defeat of host Chandler Hamilton.

As of Friday morning (April 12), Xavier was the No. 2-rated team behind two-time defending champion Scottsdale Desert Mountain in the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s Division I power-points rankings.

Xavier will begin the team portion of the state tournament on April 23 with a home match against an opponent to be determined. There will be a week-long gap between the first and second rounds, with the second rounds being played on April 30.

Individual singles and doubles will begin on April 26. The first two rounds will be at Gene Autry Park in east Mesa. Quarterfinals and semifinals are April 27 at the Paseo Racquet Center in Glendale. Finals will be held at a site to be determined on April 29.


Xavier results

Xavier Prep 9, Hamilton 0

Singles

Erica Stutz, X, def. Shivika Agrawal, H, 6-4, 6-3; Ryan Kershner, X, def. Nidhi Pulicherla, H, 6-0, 6-0; Lorelei Glidden, X, def. Hannah Szoke, H, 6-0, 6-0; Kate Stegman, X, def. Sophia Reitano, H, 6-2, 2-6 (10-5); Emilia Chrostowski, X, def. Katie Dussault, H, 6-3, 6-4; Victoria Chrostowski, X, def. Nisha Kalmadi, H, 6-4, 6-1.

Doubles

Kershner-Stutz, X, def. Pulicherla-Agrawal, H, 8-4; V. Chrostowski-Glidden, X, def. Szoke-Kalmadi, H, 8-1; Stegman-E. Chrostowski, X, def. Reitano-Dussault, H, 8-3.




Top-rated Pinnacle too much for Gator lacrosse

Xavier Prep’s club lacrosse team is going to have to figure out how to turn things around in its final two games of the regular season.

On Thursday night (April 11), the Gators traveled to face Phoenix Pinnacle, the top team in the Arizona Girls Lacrosse Association, and came away with their third straight loss 14-3.

Xavier is now 5-7, Pinnacle 11-1.

Xavier will have next week off for Spring Break, then play its final two regular-season matches, on April 24 at Scottsdale Chaparral and April 25 at home against Chandler Hamilton.


Thursday, April 11, 2019

Beach volleyball wins, lacrosse drops close one

Xavier Prep’s beach volleyball and club lacrosse teams were in action on Wednesday (April 10).

The beach team raised its record to 10-0 with a 5-0 victory over Scottsdale Desert Mountain at Horizon Park in Scottsdale.

The Gators will wrap up their regular season on Friday (April 12) with a match against Phoenix Mountain Pointe at Kiwanis Park in Tempe. Start time is 4 p.m.

Lacrosse, meanwhile, suffered its second close loss in a row with a 7-6 setback to Scottsdale Notre Dame Prep at Petznick Field. Xavier, now 5-6, travels to meet the Arizona Girls Lacrosse Association’s No. 1 team, Phoenix Pinnacle, on Thursday night (April 11). Start time is 7 p.m.


Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Xavier bats turn on the power, pop Perry

Redemption on the softball field is a dish best served with a heaping helping of home runs.

That approach worked very well for Xavier Prep’s Gators on Tuesday (April 9) with a 14-6 road victory over host Gilbert Perry, a game in which they bashed four home runs and accounted for 21 hits in total.

Just four days earlier, on April 5, Perry had escaped with a 5-4 win over the Gators at Xavier.

With Tuesday’s win, Xavier had hoped to climb out of the No. 6 spot on the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s 6A Conference power-points list. That likely would have enabled XCP to have secured a better spot in the upcoming state tournament with one and perhaps two home games in the first two rounds.

But the latest numbers apparently did not justify any upward movement, and Xavier (13-3, 4-2 in Premier Region play) remained at No. 6 when the latest rankings appeared on Wednesday morning (April 10). Perry, on the other hand, was another story. The Pumas (15-6, 4-2) dropped from the No. 2 spot to No. 5, just ahead of the Gators.

So now Xavier has a home-and-home Premier Region series with Chandler High to wrap up the regular season. The first game is on Thursday night (April 11) at Petznick Field, and the later 6 p.m. start will allow XCP to pay tribute to its seniors on Senior Night. The second will be at Chandler on Friday (April 12) with a 4 p.m. start.

The first Xavier-Perry game featured a good pitchers’ duel between Xavier freshman Riley Flynn and Perry senior Saige Stutz. Fans hoped for a similar battle on Tuesday, but it did not materialize.

Xavier locked in on Stutz early and often, scoring six runs on seven hits in the first inning. The highlight was a three-run homer by sophomore catcher Macy Lee. The wind was blowing out all afternoon, but Lee’s shot did not need much help as the ball caromed off the big metal scoreboard behind the center field fence.

Junior Cameron Martin was next to circle the bases with one swing. That came with one out in the third inning to right-center. The third came when freshman second baseman Megan Schouten led off the fourth with a blast to right. And the fourth was a laser line drive to center for a three-run homer by freshman shortstop Bridget Donahey in the fifth that gave Xavier a 13-0 lead.

Stutz lasted just 3 1/3 innings, giving up 10 runs on 11 hits with four strikeouts. Perry used three pitchers on the day.

“We had a good day of practice (on Monday) and we talked a lot about what their pitcher (Stutz) does,’’ said Xavier coach Brad Downes. “We know she likes to work ahead in the count, so we wanted to be more aggressive early (in the count). We swung the bats real well.’’

Bridget Donahey collected five hits and hit for the cycle in the process. Martin had four hits and Sydney Johnson and Lee had three (Lee had five RBIs).

It looked like it might be a short day for Flynn. Had she set down the Pumas with little difficulty in the fifth, the game would have been shortened due to the 10-run rule. But Perry bounced back a bit, keeping things alive with four runs in the fifth, another run in the sixth and another in the seventh.

Five of the runs came on three home runs, including two by senior Kylee Hough. She might be the state’s best power hitter, maybe best hitter, period. She also hit a home run in last week’s game at Xavier and had another recent two-homer game.

Flynn gave up six runs on nine hits and three walks, with nine strikeouts.

“They (Perry) got onto her late in the game. It was kind of a hot day out there and they are a good-hitting team,’’ Downes said.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Gator tennis aims for perfect regular season

One match to go, one more win and Xavier Prep’s tennis team will finish the 2019 regular season unbeaten.

The Gators put that goal within reach on Monday (April 8) with a 9-0 triumph over host Mesa Mountain View.

Xavier (13-0) will play its regular-season finale at Chandler Hamilton on Thursday (April 11).

Xavier results

Xavier Prep 9, Mountain View 0

Singles

Tristanne Dechoux, X, def. MV, 6-1, 6-1; Erica Stutz, X, def. MV, 6-1, 6-0; Ryan Kershner, X, def. MV, 6-1, 6-0; Lorelei Glidden, X, def. MV, 6-3, 6-0; Kate Stegman, X, def. MV, 6-0, 6-2; Emilia Chrostowski, X, def. MV, 6-2, 6-3.

Doubles

Stutz-Kershner, X, def. MV, 8-1; Dechoux-Glidden, X, def. MV, 8-0; Stegman-E. Chrostowski, X, def. MV, 8-2.

Late push falls just short for XCP lacrosse

Lacrosse teams need to play with urgency from the opening draw, not just in the last few minutes of a match.

That is the dilemma that faced Xavier Prep’s Gators on Monday night (April 8) against visiting Tempe Corona del Sol at Petznick Field.

Xavier struggled in the first half as Corona seemed unstoppable with a 4-0 run, and the Aztecs went on a 3-1 run to begin the second half to put the Gators in a 15-8 hole with 17:32 left.

The Gators then came to their senses, scoring five times down the stretch, but by then it was too late as Corona held on for a 15-13 victory.

Corona climbed to 6-3 and Xavier’s record evened out at 5-5. The Gators next play a makeup match at home on Wednesday night (April 10) against Scottsdale Notre Dame Prep.

Xavier coach Jen Nevatt acknowledged that her team needs to play with more motivation.

“We have to figure out how to do that, play more aggressively from the get-go,’’ she said.

“The biggest thing is we need to learn from this and use it in our remaining games.’’

Xavier got four goals apiece from Nina Mackey and Grace Martinez, two each from Caroline Andreen and Sarah Minton, and one from Bridget Wickers.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

XCP softball battles, nearly pulls off winning rally

The measure of a softball team’s improvement, particularly that of a young team, isn’t always solely focused on the outcome of a game.

Improvement also can be seen in how the team plays in games against tougher competition, and if it is behind, whether it can stay the course and keep the contest close.

So even though Xavier Prep fell 5-4 in a tough loss to visiting Gilbert Perry on Friday (April 5), the Gators can generally feel good about the way they played. They will get another chance against the Pumas on Tuesday (April 9) when the teams complete their two-game series at Perry.

Perry, which entered the day as the No. 2 team in the 6A Conference power-points rankings, climbed to 15-5 and 4-1 in Premier Region play. Xavier, the No. 6 team, slipped to 12-3 and 3-2.

Xavier freshman Riley Flynn and Perry senior Saige Stutz were locked in a pitchers’ duel into the late innings. Both entered the game with double-digit victories.

Shortly after a fighter-jet squadron from Luke Air Force Base majestically passed over Petznick Field as the final notes of the National Anthem were being played (they continued on to the Diamondbacks’ home opener down the road at Chase Field), Perry third baseman Kylee Hough sent a line drive to center field that just kept carrying and carrying.

Xavier center fielder Katie Donahey turned and sprinted toward the collapsible fence and it fell over as she made contact for a two-run home run.

Xavier came right back to tie it in the bottom of the first, scoring on a single by third baseman Jazmin Andrade and a passed ball.

The contest stayed that way until the top of the sixth, when Perry scored twice for a 4-2 lead.

Hough drove in her third run of the game in the top of the seventh for a 5-2 Perry advantage.

But Xavier did not surrender. The Gators scored on a single by Flynn and a triple by Donahey.

With Katie Donahey at third with the tying run and two outs, the Perry coaching staff took a chance and intentionally walked Donahey’s slugging younger sister, Bridget, who then became the potential winning run.

The next Xavier batter stepped in and Stutz took some speed off a few of her pitches as she had been doing for most of the game. With two strikes, another one came in and the batter started to swing and tried to hold up, but it was too late and that was it.

Xavier coach Brad Downes was pleased with the way his team played most of the day and was able to get back in it and almost pull it out.

“This was a good high school softball game,’’ he said. “Either way the score would have gone, we competed well against a quality team. The comeback was a good sign. We did not give up. If we continue to play this way, we should be able to do well in the state tournament.’’

Notes

*On Thursday (April 4), Xavier completed a two-game home-and-home sweep of Chandler Basha with a 6-3 win at Basha. Sydney Johnson and Andrade each had three hits and drove in a run, and Flynn struck out 10 while going the distance in the circle.

*After the Tuesday game at Perry, the Gators will wrap up the regular season with a home-and-home Premier Region series with Chandler High. The first one will be at Xavier on Thursday night (April 11) with a later 6 p.m. start to accommodate festivities for the annual Senior Night. The series will shift to Chandler on Friday (April 12) for a 4 p.m. game.

Gator lacrosse is back on the winning track

Xavier Prep’s club lacrosse team had lost three of its four previous matches entering Friday night’s (April 5) contest against Chandler Hamilton at Chandler Prep.

But the Gators were able to turn things around and came away with a 9-7 victory of the Huskies, putting their overall record at 5-4.

Xavier plays again on Monday (April 8) with a home match against Tempe Corona del Sol at 5:30 p.m.

The Gators will play a make-up contest on Wednesday (April 10) at home against Scottsdale Notre Dame Prep at 6:30 p.m., and will follow that with a tough road match on Thursday (April 11) against Phoenix Pinnacle, the top team in the Arizona Girls Lacrosse Association standings with only one loss.


Friday, April 5, 2019

Xavier tennis blanks Basha, remains unbeaten

Xavier Prep’s tennis team keeps on rolling.

The Gators traveled to Chandler Basha on Thursday (April 4) and shut out the Bears 9-0.

Xavier (12-0) has two matches remaining in the regular season, on April 8 at Mesa Mountain View and April 11 at Chandler Hamilton.


Xavier Prep 9, Basha 0

Singles

Ryan Kershner, X, def. Addison Stevenson, B, 6-0, 6-0; Kate Stegman, X, def. Stephaine Robinson, B, 6-0, 6-1; Emilia Chrostowski, X, def. Sadelle Gibson, B, 6-0, 6-0; Katelyn Cowan, X, def. Jenna Hardman, B, 6-0, 6-0; Phoebe Ransco, X, def. Olivia Warkins, B, 6-3, 6-0; Kate Greene, X, def. Avounay Rossi, B, 6-2, 6-2.

Doubles

E. Chrostowski-Kershner, X, def. Stevenson-Rossi, B, 8-0; Stegman-Cowan, X, def. Warkins-Robinson, B, 8-1; Ransco-Greene, X, def. Hardman-Gibson, B, 8-2.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Tennis, beach volleyball still on winning path

Xavier Prep picked up spring sports victories in tennis and beach volleyball on Wednesday (April 3).

The tennis Gators defeated Phoenix Desert Vista 7-2 at Xavier and the beach volleyball team took a 5-0 road win over Anthem Boulder Creek.

Tennis is due to play again on Thursday (April 4) at Chandler Basha. Beach volleyball’s scheduled match against Phoenix Sunnyslope on Friday (April 5) was cancelled, so the Gators’ next match will be on April 10 with a road contest against Scottsdale Desert Mountain.

The club lacrosse team also faced a late cancellation for its home match against Scottsdale Notre Dame Prep. It also will be played on April 10 at 6:30 p.m.


Tennis results

Xavier Prep 7, Desert Vista 2

Singles

Tristanne Dechoux, X, def. Emi Visic, DV, 6-3, 3-6 (10-6); Rimona Rouf, DV, def. Erica Stutz, X, 6-1, 6-3; Ryan Kershner, X, def. Brenna Wallen, DV, 6-0, 6-0; Lorelei Glidden, X, def. Kara Ge, DV, 6-0, 6-0; Kate Stegman, X, def. Katie Reed, DV, 6-0, 6-0; Emilia Chrostowski, X, def. Sara Katayama, DV, 6-0, 6-0.

Doubles

Visic-Rouf, DV, def. Stutz-Kershner, X, 8-4; Dechoux-Glidden, X, def. Wallen-Ge, DV, 8-1; E. Chrostowski-Victoria Chrostowski, X, def. Reed-Katayama, DV, 8-2.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Gator tennis gets 10th win with shutout of Perry

Xavier Prep’s tennis team is now 10-0 after its latest victory, a 9-0 shutout of visiting Gilbert Perry on Tuesday (April 2).

The Gators will have two more matches this week – on Wednesday (April 3) at home against Phoenix Desert Vista, and on Thursday (April 4) on the road against Chandler Basha.

Xavier results:

Xavier Prep 9, Perry 0

Singles

Tristanne Dechoux, X, def. McKenzie Jones, P, 6-2, 6-0; Lorelei Glidden, X, def. Talia Schrader, P, 6-1, 6-1; Emilia Chrostowski, X, def. Elyse Policastro, P, 6-4, 6-0; Victoria Chrostowski, X, def. Abby Plowman, P, 6-0, 6-1; Katelyn Cowan, X, def. Campbell Bueler, P, 6-0, 6-2; Phoebe Ransco, X, def. Grace Ogden, P, 6-2, 6-3.

Doubles

Glidden-Dechoux, X, def. Jones-Schrader, P, 8-0; E. Chrostowski-V. Chrostowski, X, def. Policastro-Bueler, P, 9-7; Cowan-Kate Greene, X, def. Plowman-Ogden, P, 8-1.

Softball rallies for win over Basha

Xavier Prep’s softball team took an early 4-0 lead against visiting Chandler Basha and fell behind 5-4 before rallying for four runs in the sixth inning for an 8-5 victory on Tuesday (April 2).

Xavier is now 11-2, Basha 8-12, with the teams meeting again on Thursday (April 3) at Basha.

Third baseman Jazmin Andrade had three hits and four RBIs for the Gators, and Bridget Donahey connected for a two-run home run.

Earning the win was pitcher Riley Flynn, who gave up nine hits, walked one and struck out four.


Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Shields, Pierson are finalists for AIA awards

Two Xavier Prep seniors have been chosen as finalists for two Arizona Interscholastic Association awards.

The first is the AIA Scholar Activity Award and the Xavier finalist is Renee Pierson of the spirit line.

The other award is the AIA Scholar Athlete Award and the Xavier finalist is Shannon Shields, who played indoor volleyball in the fall and who currently plays beach volleyball.

Each high school in Arizona can nominate one female and one male student for each award, and all-female Xavier has a finalist in each category, vry unusual for such prestigious awards.

The award winners will be announced at the AIA Awards Luncheon on May 17 at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, home of the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals

Gator lacrosse plays in deja vu cloud

It was a bad case of déjà vu for the club lacrosse team from Xavier Prep on Monday night (April 1).

The Gators, who fell 9-8 to Desert Vista in a road match on Feb. 27, fell again by the same 9-8 score on Monday night, this time at Xavier.

Xavier, now with a 4-4 record, returns to action on Wednesday (April 3) at home against Scottsdale Notre Dame Prep. First draw is at 5:30 p.m.