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, May 31, 2019

Road to basketball season begins in summer

The slate is pretty much clean for Xavier Prep basketball, and during the coming week and throughout most of June, coach Jennifer Gillom will get a chance to shape the 2019-20 edition of the Gators as they attempt to make another challenge for the 6A Conference state championship.

Xavier finished as 6A state runner-up in 2017-18 (to Surprise Valley Vista) and in 2018-19 (to Premier Region rival Chandler Hamilton).

Gillom will have to figure out how to replace three key players who graduated recently – guards Leilani McIntosh, Paris Rasheed-Moore and Addie Putnam.

So Gillom will mix and match lineups in the annual Thunderbird Summer League at Thunderbird High in north Phoenix (19th Ave. and Thunderbird).

Xavier has had a varsity team and a JV team in the tournament in past seasons but this year will have an “A” varsity team and a “B” varsity team. The A team will play eight games and the B team will play seven. Times of games vary between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. There are 31 teams entered.

The Gators have nine players who saw time with the varsity last season, but it is uncertain how many of them will be available for the summer league.

They are seniors-to-be Elysia Fleetwood and Tanya Barakat, juniors-to-be Mackenzie Coder, Rachel Orr, Victoria Saucedo, Sophie Sash and Kailey Appel, and sophomores-to-be Ellie Higgins and Toni Garcia.

The remainder of the rosters will be filled out with girls who played on the JV and/or freshman teams last season.

Gillom also has a position-coaching job with the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, for whom she once played, so she likely will rely on assistants for help this summer. Last year’s assistants were Patrick Mangosing and Rikki Mulloy.

Xavier schedules in Thunderbird Summer League


Monday, June 3 – Cave Creek Cactus Shadows (main gym, 6 p.m.), Anthem Boulder Creek (auxiliary gym, 9 p.m.)

Thursday, June 6 – Phoenix Horizon (main, 4)

Monday, June 10 – Scottsdale Saguaro (main, 5)

Wednesday, June 12 – Goodyear Desert Edge (auxiliary, 8)

Monday, June 17 – Scottsdale Chaparral (main, 8)

Tuesday, June 18 – Glendale Cactus (main, 6)

Thursday, June 20 – Glendale Ironwood (main, 4)


Monday, June 3 – Phoenix Thunderbird Orange (main gym, 7 p.m.)

Wednesday, June 5 – Peoria Centennial (main, 9)

Thursday, June 6 – Phoenix North “B” (main, 8)

Monday, June 10 – Phoenix North Canyon (main, 7)

Thursday, June 13 – Phoenix Christian (main, 7)

Tuesday, June 18 – Scottsdale Notre Dame (main, 7)

Wednesday, June 19 – Phoenix Cortez (main, 4)

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Xavier earns AIA award for overall excellence

Another strong athletic year in 2018-19 has earned Xavier Prep the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s Harold Slemmer Overall Excellence Award for the 6A Conference, even more of an achievement considering that XCP scored more points in the rating system than schools that are co-ed.

“For a school that only has girls, this is quite an accomplishment,’’ said XCP Athletic Director Sr. Lynn Winsor.

The award, named for the recently retired Executive Director for the AIA, will be presented by current Executive Director David Hines at Xavier’s Fall Sports Rally this coming fall. The school will receive an awards banner. Awards go to 1A, 2A-3A combined, 4A-5A combined and 6A.

Points are tabulated from how a school fared in a particular school year (state championships, state runners-up, winning region/section championships.

In 2018-19, Xavier won five state championships (cross country, golf, tennis, volleyball and beach volleyball) and finished as state runner-up twice (basketball and swimming/diving), and captured numerous region and section accolades. Xavier competes in the 6A Premier Region, considered by many to be ont of the strongest in the state.

“Xavier is very proud to have been named the winner of this award,’’ Winsor said.

The Gators previously won the award in 2008-09, 2011-12 and 2012-13, when it was a member of the 5A Conference.

A tip of the blue, green and white Xavier cap to all who made this possible!!

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Three Gators finish off year with AIA honors

Friday (May 17) was another great day for a couple of recent Xavier Prep graduates and one who will follow in their footsteps next year.

Seniors Shannon Shields and Renee Pierson and junior Abby Converse were honored by the Arizona Interscholastic Association at its annual Champions Luncheon at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, home of the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals.
Xavier Prep had three outstanding student-athletes honored at the recent Arizona Interscholastic Association's Champions Luncheon. They are, from left, Shannon Shields, Abby Converse and Renee Pierson. (Photo courtesy of Sr. Lynn Winsor).
Shields, who helped XCP win state championships in indoor and beach volleyball during the last school year, was recognized as a Scholar-Athlete Award Finalist. She will begin attending and playing indoor this fall at the University of Louisville.

Pierson, a member of the Gators’ highly regarded Spiritline, was a Scholar-Activity Award Finalist. She will be moving on to the University of Notre Dame.

Converse, who also played indoor and beach volleyball, was presented with the Student Leadership Award. She was Xavier’s representative on the AIA’s Student Leadership Committee, and has committed to attend and play for Virginia Commonwealth University in the fall of 2020.

Congratulations to these honorees. You have made Xavier proud!!

Friday, May 17, 2019

Two Xavier tennis players honored by

A pair of Xavier Prep tennis aces have been recognized by the media outlet on its top list of postseason players in 2019.

Senior Tristanne Dechoux is listed as an All-Arizona Player and one of eight Player of the Year candidates. Junior Erica Stutz was chosen as an Honorable Mention selection.

Both players were instrumental in Xavier claiming the Division I state title for the first time since 2015.

Players of the Year in all sports and the All-Arizona teams will be honored at the fourth annual azcentral Sports Awards Show on June 9 at Arizona State’s Grady Gammage Memorial Auditorium. The event will begin at 7 p.m.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Fun No. 1 goal at XCP summer sports camps

Xavier Prep’s athletic facilities will be plenty busy through most of June with the school’s annual summer camps.

Instruction and competition will be held in the following sports:

Tennis (tentative, June 3-7), volleyball (June 3-6 and June 17-20), badminton (June 10-14), softball (June 10-13), basketball (June 17-21) and beach volleyball (June 17-20). Tennis and beach volleyball are tentative at this point, and the number of registrants will determine if the camp will be held.

Age (grade) groups for the various sports: Badminton (6th through 9th), basketball (5th through 9th), softball (5th through 8th), tennis (5th through 9th), volleyball (separate sessions for 9th, 7th and 8th and 5th and 6th), and beach volleyball (6th through 9th). Times for the sessions vary, with most in the morning.

Camp features will include one-on-one instruction with coaches, new students, current and past player participation, emphasis on fundamentals taught and reviewed, skills put into action in team competition, and emphasis on learning and understanding offensive and defensive team strategy.

Camp fees are $125 per person and are non-refundable.  A medical release section is part of the registration form that is on the Xavier Web site, Deadline is May 20. And for more information, contact Susan Contreras via e-mail in the XCP athletic office at

Let the fun begin, and good luck to all !!

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Xavier softball came a long way this spring

After struggling in 2017 and 2018, Xavier Prep brought in Brad Downes to coach the softball team, which featured a talented group of underclassmen in 2019.

Together, they brought the Gators to contending status in the 6A Conference before dropping a 3-2 decision to Mesa Red Mountain in a loser’s bracket elimination game on Wednesday night (May 8) at the Rose Mofford Sports Complex in north Phoenix.

Xavier was a combined 12-32 in 2017 and 2018. The Gators were the 23rd seed in 2018, losing a “play-in’’ state tournament game to Tucson High. Then came a huge jump in 2019, going all the way to the No. 4 seed and finishing at 17-5.

“The girls worked really hard,’’ Downes said after the loss to Red Mountain, which also defeated XCP, 13-11, on March 1.

“We came in with a new coaching staff (including assistants Deryk Sexton and Maddie Johnson). We listened to what they (players) wanted to get out of the program and they listened to what we wanted. We created a brand-new landscape.’’

The season brought a few twists and turns, but not nearly as many as one might expect from such a young team. The Gators came out hitting and hitting and hitting, providing freshman pitcher Riley Flynn with a secure cushion most of the time.

Third-seeded Red Mountain (23-6) had stolen six bases in the earlier win over Xavier, so is seemed logical for one to surmise that the Mountain Lions would use the same tactic if given the chance in this one.

Red Mountain would waste no time in that endeavor.

Center fielder Michelle Anderson led off the bottom of the first inning with an infield hit to second base, using her speed to cross the first-base in plenty of time to beat the throw from Meghan Schouten after Schouten had backhanded the ball. It certainly helped that Anderson had a few extra steps as a left-handed hitter.

In the blink of an eye, Anderson took off, stealing second and later third. Another grounder to second, this one by Makayla Donahoo, allowed Anderson to score.

Red Mountain got its other two runs in the third. A groundout to shortstop by Donahoo accounted for one and a single by Kayden Bullock the other.

Xavier began a comeback in the top of the fourth. Freshman shortstop Bridget Donahey, who this season established herself as one of the state’s top young players, ripped a leadoff home run to left. A strong wind that was blowing in from center field earlier in the contest had subsided somewhat, giving Donahey’s shot a chance to cut through the air.

It was interesting, given that Donahey popped out to shortstop to end the previous inning. But on that play, it was ruled that a Xavier baserunner had left first base too early, allowing Donahey to return to the batter’s box in the fourth.

Donahey figured again in a Gator run in the sixth that cut the deficit to 3-2. She singled to left with one out, her third hit of the game, and eventually came around on a single just inside the left-field line by catcher Macy Lee.

Lee’s hit, combined with a walk to third baseman Jazmyn Andrade, led to both advancing to third and second, respectively. An aggressive Red Mountain attempt to apprehend Andrade at third on Lee’s hit was not successful as the potential tying and go-ahead runs were oh so close with only one out.

But Red Mountain freshman pitcher Taylor Trowbridge escaped, retiring outfielder Cameron Martin on a foul to third and getting Flynn on a fly to deep center. Trowbridge had a gutty effort in the circle after a hard shot by Andrade in the first skipped off the pitcher’s lower leg.

Trowbridge breezed through the top of the seventh with a foul pop to the catcher, a strikeout and a fly to right.

“It was a tight game and we had our opportunities, but we had too many pop-ups,’’ Downes said. “It was a credit to their pitcher. She was good.

“We were close. We are a good young team that had some success and we are expecting to build on it.’’

Red Mountain moves on to play No. 7 Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor on Friday night (May 10) in a semifinal game. A victory by Sandra Day O’Connor had sent Red Mountain to the loser’s bracket with a win on Tuesday night (May 7).

The other semifinal will match top-seeded, defending champion Phoenix Pinnacle against No. 12 Tucson, which defeated No. 6 Yuma Cibola in the other loser’s bracket elimination game on Wednesday night.

The state championship game will be played on Monday (May 13) at 7:45 p.m. at Arizona State’s Farrington Stadium.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Beach pairs event not so kind to Xavier players

The two Xavier Prep entries in the beach volleyball 6A Conference pairs state tournament did not find their attempts to be as profitable as they were in last week’s 6A team tournament.

Shannon Shields and Trinity Cavanaugh and Abby Converse and Serena Turner, who helped the Gators win the state championship against Gilbert Perry, were out in the first day of pairs competition on Tuesday (May 7) at Casteel High in Queen Creek.

In the first round, Shields and Cavanaugh, seeded fourth, won by default over Phoenix Sunnyslope’s  Jazmyn Wheeler and Maddie Shepston. Shortly therafter in the quarterfinal, Shields and Cavanaugh fell to fifth-seeded Taryn Ames and Brooke Blutreich of Phoenix Desert Vista, 2-0.

Converse and Turner stumbled out of the gate, dropping their first-round match 2-0 to Chandler Basha’s Haley Carrington and Sam Drewry.

Action continues Thursday (May 9) with semifinals and finals at Casteel.

Monday, May 6, 2019

XCP seniors to begin journey at U.S. Naval Academy

On Aug. 8, 1975, the U.S. Congress authorized women to be able to attend military service academies.

From that point, it was full steam ahead for candidates hoping to receive an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. In 1980, the USNA had 81 women graduates for the first time, and Elizabeth Anne Belzer was the first.

Flash forward to 2023, when the list of female graduates is expected to be between 300 and 400 out of a total of about 1,200. And two 2019 graduates from Xavier College Preparatory are planning to be a part of that group that will toss its hats into the air.

Alyssa Largay and Eve Worden received appointments from Arizona’s Congressional delegation that led to a presentation from a Naval officer at the recent XCP Awards Assembly.
Xavier seniors Alyssa Largay, left, and Eve Worden, right, flank U.S. Navy Lt. Commander Michael Lanin after receiving their appointments to the U.S. Naval Academy (Photo by Don Ketchum).
It is quite an accomplishment for one graduate to head to Annapolis, but to have two from the same school in the same year earn such an honor is all the more impressive.

“I have been doing this (interacting with appointees) for about four years now, and it is very rare to have two in one cycle (graduation),’’ said Lt. Commander Michael Lanin, looking sharp in his dress whites. “We know these young women have worked hard to get to this point, but there is a lot of work ahead.’’

Largay and Worden will be participating in intercollegiate athletics at the USNA, Largay as a diver and Worden as a golfer.

They will report to Annapolis, near Washington D.C. and Baltimore, Md., on the shore of Chesapeake Bay, on June 27. That’s when their lives will change forever, beginning with the annual Plebe (freshman) Summer, consisting of seven weeks of initiation and training.

The USNA Web site tells these newbies to be ready.

“By the time you throw your hat into the air at graduation, you are fully prepared to be a leader of competence, character, compassion and ready to take on the world.’’

In return for their commitment, the Midshipmen receive room and board, a modest monthly stipend, and medical and dental care. At graduation, they must begin five years of active duty in the U.S. Navy or U.S. Marine Corps.

“It is a big level of commitment for us. I have always wanted to be able to serve my country,’’ said Largay.

Said Worden: “I am extremely excited but there is a lot of nervousness. I think it is going to be a great journey.’’

Largay’s appointment came from the office of Arizona Congressman David Schweikert and Worden’s came from former Arizona Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema, before she became a U.S. Senator.

Largay’s patriotism stems in part from her time as an intern in the office of late Arizona Senator John McCain.

“He told me a lot about the U.S. Naval Academy (McCain was a graduate) and that always stuck in my mind as something I would like to try,’’ she said.

Worden has a family history of graduates from military academies. Her maternal grandfather graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y.

The girls had sisters who were athletes at Xavier and went on to prestigious collegiate institutions.

Kristen Largay (volleyball) went to American University in Washington, D.C., and Lily Worden (golf) went to Amherst College in Amherst, Mass.

Family support in general, particularly from parents, has been crucial through the process.

Alyssa Largay and Eve Worden said many of the things they learned at Xavier will be a part of the success they will achieve at the USNA.

“I learned a lot about time management, communication and good leadership skills,’’ Largay said.

“Being associated with clubs and organizations, just interacting with all of the students will be very helpful,’’ Worden said.

And don’t forget Xavier sports.

“It helps your resume all the way around,’’ Largay said.

“It is going to be pretty crazy, but it will be really exciting,’’ Worden said.

Soon, the young women’s music playlists will feature Anchors Aweigh.

U.S. Naval Academy facts and figures

Source: USNA Web site

What is needed for a candidate to be appointed . . .

1 – Confirm eligibility. 2 – Preliminary application. 3 – Apply for nomination. 4 – College entrance exams. 5 – Grade transcript. 6 – Medical exam. 7 – Fitness Assessment. 8 – Interview with Blue/Gold officer. 8 – Keep track of all deadlines.

Make sure to prepare for the tough weekday schedule . . .

5:30 a.m. – Arise for personal fitness workout (optional). 6:30 a.m. – Reveille (all hands out of bed). 6:30-7 a.m. – Special introduction period for Plebes (freshmen). 7:15 a.m. – Morning meal. 7:55-11:45 a.m. – Four class periods, 50 minutes each. 12:10 p.m. – Noon meal. 12:50-1:20 p.m. – Company training time. 1:20-3:30 p.m. – Fifth and sixth class periods. 3:45-6 p.m. – Varsity and intramural athletics. Personal activities, drills and parades twice weekly in the fall and spring. 6:30-7:15 p.m. – Evening meal. 8-11 p.m. – Study period. Midnight – Taps for all Midshipmen.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Gator track & field finishes 8th in D-I meet

Xavier Prep’s track and field team scored points in eight events on the way to an eighth-place finish in the 2019 Division I state meet on March 1 and Saturday (March 4) at Mesa Community College.

The Gators finished with 30 points, and perennial power Chandler High won again with 189.

Senior Jada Sims and junior Mia Olsen each scored points in two events.

Sims was second in the long jump (18-6 ¼) and fifth in the 100-meter hurdles (15.10).

Olsen was fifth in the 3,200-meter run (11:11.55) and sixth in the 1,600-meter run (5:13.88).

Other point-producers for XCP were junior Sophie Brohard in the 400-meter run (57.55), sophomore Jamie Stelnik in the 3,200 (11:22.29) and a pair of relay teams. Xavier was third in the 4x400 (3:56.76) and sixth in the 4x800 (9:51.72).

Congratulations to these athletes and their Gator teammates for a job well done this season !! Also to head coach Dave Van Sickle and his staff of assistants – Alex Bishop, Claire Dalman, Shaun Fitzgerald, Eden Higgins, Vito Perrone and Ryan Regula.

Four Xavier lacrosse players are All-Stars

Four Xavier Prep lacrosse players have been named recipients of Arizona Girls Lacrosse Association (AGLA) All-Star awards for 2019 and will play in the annual All-Star Game.

They are seniors Grace Martinez and Sarah Minton and juniors Nina Mackey and Grace Haak.

The Gators will play in the AGLA All-Star Game on Friday (May 10) at the Copper Ridge School at 10101 E. Thompson Peak Parkway in north Scottsdale. Start time is 7 p.m.

Congratulations, Xavier All-Stars !!

Also, a thank you to head coach Jen Nevatt and assistant Clayton Zuba.

Gator tennis title wraps up "crazy weekend''

Asked her reaction after she helped Xavier Prep earn its first tennis title since 2015 and 19th overall with a 5-0 win over Chandler Hamilton in the Division I finals on Saturday (May 4), junior Erica Stutz said, “It’s been kind of a crazy weekend.’’

Yes, when craziness in sports is the topic of conversation, tennis usually is far down the list. It is pretty calm by comparison.

But this was a rare occasion, at least in the state tournament.

Two-time defending state champion Scottsdale Desert Mountain, the top seed, was forced to forfeit by the Arizona Interscholastic Association after its semifinal win over Hamilton on Friday (May 3) due to a rules infraction in regard to its lineup.

That put No. 4 Hamilton in the title match against No. 2 Xavier, and the Gators coasted at the Paseo Racquet Center in Glendale as they did against the Huskies, 9-0, on April 11.

Xavier finished the season 17-0.

The Gators got victories from players 2 through 6 in their lineup. They were, in order, Stutz, freshman Ryan Kershner, junior Lorelei Glidden, senior Kate Stegman and sophomore Emilia Chrostowski. No. 1 player Tristanne Dechoux was still playing her match when the title was decided. No doubles matches were necessary.

“We (coaches) are really proud of the girls,’’ said Xavier coach Laurie Martin. “They were extremely close the whole season. They fought for each other, and you don’t always see that in tennis.’’

Martin was assisted by Ann Coover, Amy Gallo, Wendy McDaniel, Ford Oliver and Joy Rodey.

If it were not for a victory rally against Scottsdale Chaparral 5-4 in the semifinals, the Gators would not have been here. They were down 0-3 before coming back.

“That semi was one of the best matches I’ve ever been a part of,’’ Martin said.

When Kershner came in as a freshman, she wasn’t really sure what to expect. She knew of Xavier’s outstanding history, but she couldn’t really comprehend what being a part of it would be like.

“I’m really happy to help us win in my freshman year. Not everyone is able to do that, to have that chance,’’ she said.

She will have three more chances to put her fingerprints on a championship trophy. More good, young players also will join the program and the cycle of excellence will continue.

Division I championship

Xavier Prep 5, Hamilton 0


No. 1 – Tristanne Dechoux, X, did not finish against Shivika Agrawal, H. No. 2 – Erica Stutz, X, def. Nidhi Pulicherla, H, 6-0, 6-0. No. 3 – Ryan Kershner, X, def. Hannah Szoke, H, 6-0, 6-0. No. 4 – Lorelei Glidden, X, def. Sophia Reltano, H, 6-1, 6-3. No. 5 – Kate Stegman, X, def. Katie Dussault, H, 6-1, 6-0. No. 6 – Emilia Chrostowski, X, def. Nisha Kalmadi, H, 6-3, 6-1.

XCP softball wins, remains in state tournament

Xavier Prep’s softball team could not find the right magic in the early going of its 6A Conference state tournament elimination game on Saturday IMay 4) against Scottsdale Chaparral at the Rose Mofford Sports Complex in north Phoenix.

Three groundouts to third base, one to shortstop in the first four innings as the contest remained scoreless.

Finally, Gator freshman Riley Flynn broke the seal with her team’s first hit as she led off the bottom of the fifth with a single through the hole between third and short.

She later came home to score on a throwing error during a sacrifice bunt play by Elliot Smith, and Smith scored on a double by Meghan Schouten to give fourth-seeded Xavier all it would need in a 2-0 triumph over the No. 9 Firebirds.

Flynn also had a crucial effort in the pitching circle, giving up just one hit.

Xavier (17-4) will play again at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday (May 8) at Rose Mofford against the loser of a Tuesday night (May 7) winner’s bracket game between No. 3 Mesa Red Mountain and No. 7 Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor.

“We were getting no-hit until that point (Flynn’s hit),’’ said Xavier coach Brad Downes. “We weren’t getting the good swings that we needed (against Chaparral freshman pitcher Sashi Sakai). We were getting jammed. So we had to play some small ball (with two sacrifices).’’

Flynn had some pitching trouble early on, issuing three of her four walks on the game, “but then she got dialed in a little better,’’ Downes said. “Her rise ball wasn’t really working, but she had a good drop and some good curves.’’

A 9-7 upset loss to No. 12 Tucson in the second round allowed reality to set in for the Gators, according to Downes.

“They are a competitive group and they have the belief they will be able to continue to play and do a lot,’’ he said.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Another rally for Xavier, this time in tennis

There’s something about comebacks for some of Xavier Prep’s spring sports teams in 2019.

The softball team rallied from a 5-0 deficit for a win in its state tournament opener and the beach volleyball team staged a monumental comeback to win the Division I state championship on Thursday night (May 2).

The latest XCP team to battle back from a significant deficit was the tennis team, which overcame an 0-3 deficit to defeat Scottsdale Chaparral 5-4 in a 4 ½-hour Division I semifinal on Friday (May 3) at Scottsdale Ranch Park.

Second-seeded Xavier (16-0), winner of 18 state crowns (the last in 2015) advances to Saturday’s (May 4) title match at the Paseo Racquet Center in Glendale. Play begins at 5 p.m.

A jackrabbit jogged across a walkway at Scottsdale Ranch, and perhaps one of the rabbit’s feet was a lucky sign for Xavier.

Xavier rallied from its 0-3 deficit for a 4-3 lead on wins by No. 1 singles player Tristanne Dechoux, No. 3 Ryan Kershner, No. 6 Emilia Chrostowski and the doubles team of Erica Stutz and Ryan Kershner.

After that doubles win, Xavier needed to win one of the last two doubles matches and third-seeded Chaparral needed to win both.

Chaparral won one, against the No. 2 doubles team of Dechoux and Lorelei Glidden, but the No. 3 team of Kate Stegman and Chrostowski pulled through to decide the match.

It was an interesting turn of events, considering Xavier easily defeated Chaparral 8-1 on March 21.

“It was a great comeback. Our girls played their hearts out,’’ said Xavier coach Laurie Martin. “Despite the last time we played them, when the match was not as lopsided as the score might indicate, we knew they would be tough. They are a great team.’’

Xavier semifinal result

Xavier Prep 5, Chaparral 4

Friday, at Scottsdale Ranch Park


No. 1 – Tristanne Dechoux, X, def. Gabi Moss, C, 5-7, 6-3, 6-2. No. 2 – Mattie Wang, C, def. Erica Stutz, X, 6-3, 6-4. No. 3 – Ryan Kershner, X, def. Analise Wachtel, C, 7-5, 6-4. No. 4 – Cassie Seminoff, C, def. Lorelei Glidden, X, 6-2, 6-2. No. 5 – Erin Hannen, C, def. Kate Stegman, X, 6-3, 6-2. No. 6 – Emilia Chrostowski, X, def. Anna Ramsook, C, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.


No. 1 – Stutz-Kershner, X, def. Wang-Wachtel, C, 8-1. No. 2 – G. Moss-Seminoff, C, def. Dechoux-Glidden, X, 8-5. No. 3 – Stegman-E. Chrostowski, X, def. Hannen--Katrina Moss, C, 8-6.

Gators rise from depths to claim 7th beach crown

Somehow, some way, Xavier Prep’s Gators got the job done.

They won the Division I state beach volleyball championship for the seventh time in eight tries on Thursday night (May 2) at Casteel High in Queen Creek, defeating Gilbert Perry 3-2 in a battle between the top two seeds.

That’s the way it should be.

It almost didn’t happen.

Xavier’s No. 5 duo of Analy Carbine and Katie Anthony won, the No. 4 team of Grace Lincoln and Shea Sciarappo  lost, as did the No. 3 team of Lydia Rush and Tori Burton.

Shift to the No. 2 match between Xavier’s Abby Converse and Serena Turner, who faced Perry’s Morgan Mann and Matea Suan. Xavier won the first game 21-19 and was trounced in the second game 21-7. That meant that all the Perry team had to do was win the third game and the title would be theirs, winning three matches as a team.

Converse and Turner held firm and won 15-7, putting the match even at 2-2 with the No. 1’s, Xavier seniors Trinity Cavanaugh and Shannon Shields and Perry’s Erin Myers and Noelle Weintraub, going after the big prize.

Perry won the first game, 21-18, Xavier the second, 21-17. One last race to 15 points in the third game, winner take all.

Cavanaugh and Shields maintained their composure and won Game 3, 15-8, allowing the Gators to atone for a loss to Perry in last year’s quarterfinals, before Perry went on to earn the title.

This time, the Gators were able to climb back to the top.

They finished 15-0, Perry 14-2, with both losses to Xavier.

Xavier's Gators are back as the beach volleyball state champs!! (Photo by Don Ketchum).
“It was a great ride,’’ said Xavier coach Tim McHale, who was assisted by Kristen Jones.

He gathered the players together before the title trophy was presented and said, “I am unbelievably proud of this team. Everybody thought we were dead tonight, but we dodged the Grim Reaper.’’

He acknowledged that Converse and Turner had the most important win of the night.

“If they don’t come back and win that, Shannon and Trinity would not have had the chance to do what they did,’’ he said.

Said Shields, “That win by the No. 2’s motivated us. Before our game, we (Shields and Cavanaugh) talked about just going out and having fun, giving it everything we had and not worrying about making mistakes.’’

Shields also won an indoor volleyball title for Xavier in the fall. Which was better?

She grimaced a bit, then smiled and said, “Ooh, don’t ask me that question. The two titles are equally amazing.’’

McHale called the win “really rewarding. This match could have gone either way.’’

Cavanaugh said that taking the trophy “was a total team win. We worked hard all year and we weren’t about to quit. That is our sand mentality.’’

Shields and Cavanaugh and Converse and Turner will be back at Casteel next week, starting on Tuesday (May 7) for the pairs tournament. Shields and Cavanaugh are seeded No. 4.

Upset by Tucson sends XCP to elimination bracket

Xavier Prep’s softball team rallied for a win over Queen Creek on Tuesday (April 30) in the first round of the 6A Conference state tournament.

But the fourth-seeded Gators could not continue the magic on Thursday (May 2) as 12th-seeded Tucson High posted its second upset in a row 9-7. The Badgers upset No. 5 Gilbert Perry 4-1 in the first round.

Tucson advances in the winner’s bracket now that the tournament has shifted to a double-elimination format. The Badgers will face defending champion Phoenix Pinnacle, the No. 1 seed, on Tuesday night (May 7) at the Rose Mofford Sports Complex in north Phoenix.

Xavier (16-4), meanwhile, will play an elimination game on Saturday at 1 p.m. against No. 9 Scottsdale Chaparral, which lost to Pinnacle. Xavier defeated Chaparral 11-0 on March 5.

Tucson led 7-5 after the top of the fifth but the Gators managed to tie it at 7-7 in the bottom half of the inning. Tucson then scored the decisive runs in the top of the sixth.

Xavier had seven hits, including two home runs by freshman shortstop Bridget Donahey, who drove in four runs. Tucson had 14 hits, three by Alyssa Carpio.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Gators triumph, advance to beach title match

Nearly a month ago, on March 6, as darkness descended on Xavier Prep’s Cavanaugh Courts, Xavier and Gilbert Perry squared off in a state title-type beach volleyball match.

Xavier managed to pull out a 3-2 victory, but one couldn’t help but get the feeling that these two would meet again in the Division I state tournament.

That day, or in this case, night, will arrive on Thursday (May 2) when top-seeded Xavier and No. 2 Perry vie for the state championship at Casteel High in Queen Creek (east on Ivy Street off Power Road) at 7 p.m.

Xavier won the state title in the first six years of the sport in Arizona before Perry ended that streak last year in the quarterfinals and went on to win the whole thing.

Xavier is 14-0 after defeating No. 5 Goodyear Millennium 4-1 in Tuesday night’s (May 2) semifinals at Casteel, while Perry is 14-1 after stopping No. 3 Tempe Corona del Sol 3-2 in its semi.

The Gators secured the match with victories by its Nos. 5, 4 and 2 pairs. The No. 3 team fell before the No. 1 team of Trinity Cavanaugh and Shannon Shields took the spotlight in center sand and took Millennium to three sets before winning it in the third set, 18-16.

Xavier results

Division I semifinals

No. 5 – Analy Carbine-Katie Anthony def. Millenium, 21-9, 21-16. No. 4 – Shea Sciarappo-Grace Lincoln def. Millennium, 21-12, 21-8. No. 3 – Millennium def. Lydia Rush-Tori Burton, 26-24, 21-17. No. 2 – Abby Converse-Serena Turner def. Millennium, 21-15, 21-18. No. 1 – Trinity Cavanaugh-Shannon Shields def. Millennium, 23-25, 21-17, 18-16.

Softball rallies from 5-run deficit to win 7-5

There is practice speed. There is regular-season speed. And there is playoff speed.

In order for a team, in this case, a softball team, to keep playing, it must figure out how to shift gears and play at a higher level.

Xavier Prep’s fourth-seeded Gators did that on Tuesday (April 30), but it didn’t start out that way in a 6A Conference state tournament game against No. 13 Queen Creek at XCP’s Petznick Field.

The Gators allowed the Bulldogs to score the first five runs of the game for a 5-0 lead in the second inning, then came back for two runs in the third and five in the fourth and held on for a 7-5 victory.

The tournament now shifts to a double-elimination format, and Xavier (16-3) plays another home game in the “A” bracket on Thursday (May 2) at 4 p.m. against No. 12 Tucson High, which posted a big 4-1 upset of No. 5 Perry in Gilbert on Tuesday.

A year ago, Tucson defeated Xavier in a “play-in’’ game, preventing the Gators from reaching the state tournament.

So now it’s a new ballgame, with Xavier undergoing a major overhaul with an infusion of promising young talent, particularly at the freshman level.

Pitcher Riley Flynn is among that group, and she has performed well all season. Against Queen Creek, however, she struggled in the early going.

Xavier coach Brad Downes looked out at the scoreboard to see his team’s deficit. While that might have concerned some coaches, he said it did not bother him.

“I wasn’t really worried,’’ he said. “It had been more than two weeks (April 12) since we last played a game (against Chandler High). We had been swinging the bats well in practice, but there is a different speed between that and a regular game, and now a playoff game like this.

“The same thing applies to Riley’s pitching. You saw that today. She started out trying to get a feel for things, and we saw her improve and get stronger as the game went on.’’

Flynn gave up five runs on five hits in the second inning, including a three-run home run by Jaylei Brechler, but surrendered just two hits after that. She also maintained her composure despite being called for illegal pitches a few times by the umpires.

In the third, Xavier had two runners on base with two outs after a single by Katie Donahey and a double by Jazmin Andrade off the first baseman’s glove. Flynn then hit a tapper back to the circle for what appeared would be an inning-ending out, but the pitcher threw the ball very low over to first and it went for an error, allowing both runs to score.

That gave the Gators new life, and they took the lead in the fourth. Run-scoring hits by Cameron Martin, Meghan Schouten, Andrade and Flynn would prove to be the difference.

If Xavier defeats Tucson, it would advance to the next round on Tuesday (May 7) at the Rose Mofford Sports Complex in north Phoenix (7:30 p.m.) against either top-seeded, defending state champion Phoenix Pinnacle or No. 9 Scottsdale Chaparral. Pinnacle is coached by former Xavier coach Bobby Pena.

If Xavier loses to Tucson, it would go to the loser’s bracket at Rose Mofford on Saturday (May 4) at 1 p.m. against Pinnacle or Chaparral.

Xavier tennis defeats Horizon in quarters

Xavier Prep’s second-seeded tennis team won its quarterfinal match against No. 7 Phoenix Horizon 5-0 on Tuesday (April 30).

Xavier (16-0) moves on to the semifinals on Friday (May 3) against third-seeded Scottsdale Chaparral at Scottsdale Ranch Park. Start time is noon. The winner will advance to Saturday’s (May 4) championship match at the Paseo Racquet Center in Glendale. Start time is 5 p.m.

Xavier results

No. 1 – Tristanne Dechoux, X, def. Horizon, 6-1, 6-2; No. 2 – Erica Stutz, X, did not finish after losing first set, 6-4. No. 3 – Ryan Kershner, X, def. Horizon, 6-0, 6-0. No. 4 – Lorelei Glidden, X, def. Horizon, 6-1, 6-1. No. 5 – Kate Stegman, X, def. Horizon, 6-0, 6-1. No. 6 – Emilia Chrostowski, X, def. Horizon, 6-0, 6-0.