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

Softball coach encouraged by scrimmage effort

Xavier Prep softball players walked onto the field at Phoenix Pinnacle for a scrimmage on Thursday (Feb. 20) and saw four banners hanging over the left-field fence, symbolizing Pinnacle’s three 6A state runner-up finishes and one state championship in 2018.

It is that type of excellence that the Gators are striving to reach.

And in the scrimmage, they played like the rising team they are, building a 2-0 lead and settling for a 2-2 tie after an extra eighth inning.

It was the same aggressive style that pushed the Gators to overcome two sluggish seasons with a strong 17-5 season in the spring of 2019.

“It was a good showing,’’ said second-year coach Brad Downes.

For the first three innings, the contest featured a scoreless pitching duel between Xavier sophomore Riley Flynn, who won all the team’s games last season, and the Pioneers’ Morgan Smith, who can be an intimidating presence in the circle.

Flynn’s arm should remain more fresh this season with the addition of freshmen Zoe Zowine and Berdina Riggs. Both also pitched with good results.

“Riley moved the ball around (the plate) well, and the other girls did well against a pretty strong lineup,’’ Downes said.

“The pitching is ahead of the pitching right now. Hitting in practice is not the same as in a game situation like this, but we are encouraged.’’

Sophomore second baseman Meghan Schouten got things going for the Gators in the fifth when she led off the inning with a walk, stole second and scored on a ringing double by junior catcher Macy Lee into the gap between left and center.

The second run came in the sixth when the Gators drew back-to-back, one-out walks and sophomore shortstop Bridget Donahey delivered with a run-scoring single to right-center.

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