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.
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
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.
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.’’
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.
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.
would waste no time in that endeavor.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
close. We are a good young team that had some success and we are expecting to
build on it.’’
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).
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.
championship game will be played on Monday (May 13) at 7:45 p.m. at Arizona
State’s Farrington Stadium.