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, February 21, 2020

Gator softball is ahead of the curve in 2020

The time is almost here for the Xavier Prep softball team to play ball !!

The Gators enter the 2020 season after a very strong showing in 2019, when they finished 17-5 and were the No. 4 seed in the 6A Conference state tournament in Brad Downes’ first year as head coach.

Downes won’t shroud his team’s potential in ifs and maybes.

“We think we have a really good team,’’ he said.

Xavier opens the season next weekend (Feb. 27-29) in the annual Sunrise Mountain Tournament at Pioneer Park in Peoria. The Gators will play twice on Thursday, once on Friday and once or twice on Saturday.

The Gators field a balanced roster in terms of year in school. There are three seniors, four juniors, four sophomores and four freshmen.

In terms of experience, though, XCP is way ahead of the curve.

With a lineup loaded with underclassmen, Xavier put up some impressive numbers with the bat and rode the arm of then-freshman Riley Flynn, who won all of the team’s games.

“We’re a year older and stronger, and our hitters should be better,’’ Downes said.

Back for her sophomore year will be sophomore shortstop Bridget Donahey, who was one of the best at her position in Arizona, if not the country. She hit .581 with 13 home runs, 13 doubles, drove in 36 runs and stole 5 bases.

Donahey’s sister, Katie, now a senior center fielder, made her mark mainly on defense, but also hit .382 with 2 homers and 15 RBIs.

There also are junior catcher Macy Lee, who recently committed to Michigan State after hitting .397 with 2 homers and 21 RBIs, and sophomore second baseman Meghan Schouten, who hit .321 with 3 homers and is one of the team’s vocal leaders.

It won’t be easy for Flynn to surpass what she did last season, but she certainly is capable.

She struck out 144 batters in 130 1/3 innings. Her arm got a bit tired late in the season, but she should get more help in the circle this year from freshmen Zoe Zowine and Berdina Riggs.

Downes will be assisted by Deryk Sexton, Maddison Johnson and former Xavier player Mallory Belknap.

Downes said the players “have a familiarity now with each other and with the coaching staff. They know what to expect. We are out to have fun but we also want to be focused and disciplined.’’

Xavier Prep 2020 softball roster

Listed alphabetically

Jazmin Andrade, Jr., INF; Victoria Delgado, Sr., OF; Bridget Donahey, So., SS; Katie Donahey, Sr., OF; Riley Flynn, So., P-OF; Izzy Hycnar, Fr., 3B-1B; Sydney Johnson, Jr., OF-2B; Macy Lee, Jr., C-1B; Grace Lobocki, Fr., OF; Cameron Martin, Sr., OF; Berdina Riggs, Fr., P-1B; Meghan Schouten, So., 2B-OF; Elliot Smith, So., 1B-C-OF; Lina Vanderwey, Jr., OF-C; Zoe Zowine, Fr., P-OF.

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