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, 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.

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