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.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Athletes mourn the loss of their spring seasons

The moment that everyone feared would happen finally arrived for Arizona’s high school spring sports athletes on Monday (March 30), when the rest of their seasons were canceled by the Arizona Interscholastic Association after an order by Gov. Doug Ducey that will close all of the state’s schools through the end of the current school year as the result of the onset of the dreaded Corona virus.

Xavier students will continue to be involved with Distance Learning via electronic devices, but many of the athletes will have to put their sports equipment away. No competition in beach volleyball, softball, tennis, track and field, or the club sport of lacrosse, governed by the Arizona Girls Lacrosse Association.

But athletes in softball and tennis are working on their skills in classes specific to their sport, with directives passed on electronically by their coaches. The athletes follow the lesson plans on their own.

In a statement released on Monday by the AIA, Executive Director David Hines said, “This is an unfortunate circumstance for all of our member schools, students and coaches. We know this decision was a hard one, but one that was necessary to assist in the well-being of everyone across Arizona. We hope everyone stays healthy and focused on what the next chapter will bring.’’

The XCP Files caught up with a few of the spring coaches on Monday, and all echoed the disappointment shared by all involved in athletics.

“We are starting to mourn,’’ said beach volleyball coach Tim McHale, whose team is the defending state champion and whose program has won state titles in seven of the eight years the sport has been in existence in Arizona.

“I wish I had a solution, but this doesn’t affect just us. It affects everyone in the community, state, country and world. You just want to console them (players).’’

Including team manager Jasmine Knight, who is one of the state’s top indoor players, Xavier has seven seniors.

Another key senior, Abby Converse, who also plays indoor, was accepted to Stanford recently and McHale said the team should be celebrating in person rather than just by the “Zoom’’ function that is used on computers and cell phones. The team had a “Zoom’’ lunch on Monday.
Xavier Prep beach volleyball players and coaches gathered for a computer "Zoom'' lunch on Monday to catch up on all the latest news (Photo courtesy of Anna Panagiotakopoulos).

“She has been a part of volleyball at Xavier for so long. You just want her to be able to end her senior year in the right way. We’ll just have to make the best of it,’’ McHale said.

As an off-campus coach, McHale teaches at a school in the Peoria area and normally does not have some of the advantages that on-campus coaches do. That’s where the “Zoom’’ function helps him maintain contact with his players.

Xavier Athletic Director and Vice Principal for Activities Sr. Lynn Winsor understands the coaches’ and athletes’ feelings.

“All of us involved in Xavier athletics are disappointed that competitive athletics are done for the rest of the year, but at the same time, we believe that the safety of our school community and all those with whom we interact is primary,’’ she said.

“We are saddened especially for our seniors. So many of them have played their Xavier sport for four years and do not get to finish their season. The Xavier Community continues to pray for the victims of the virus and all those worldwide who have been affected by this horrible pandemic. We also hope that soon we can be reunited with our teams, friends and those who are separated from us.’’

Track and field head coach Dave Van Sickle also is disappointed for the seniors.

"I try to imagine what that would be like, working so hard for three years to be prepared and now, nothing,'' he said. "It has got to be a significant loss for them, and they can't really get that back.

"It's a bit strange for me, too. I've done this my entire adult life, starting when I was in high school. You reach this time of year, and now it is different.''

On an even more personal level, the situation for seniors has crept into Van Sickle's home in north Phoenix. His son, Keegan, is a senior at Thunderbird High and was on the rise as a discus thrower. Now, just uncertainty.

Van Sickle said he has reached his limit of yard work the last few weeks but has a hopeful plan to fall back on when the Xavier cross-country runners (he also is the head coach) start the process for fall with informal workouts in May.

Like beach volleyball, the tennis and softball programs figured to make strong challenges for a state championship.

“We were starting a new season, things were looking good and “Bam!’ All of this hit us,’’ said coach Laurie Martin, whose tennis team is the Division I defending state champion.

“There is not a lot you can say. My heart aches for those kids, particularly the seniors. We are staying in touch with the “Zoom’’ meetings and it’s great to be able to see all of their faces. We would like to see them interact with each other and play together. That is why you coach.

“I told the seniors that they will be a part of history forever, with what has happened.’’

Softball was going strong and had an 8-1 overall record after a 2-0 win over Mesa Red Mountain in what would be its final game on March 6.

“The change and disruption in their lives is unheard of, difficult to comprehend,’’ said Bradley Downes, in his second season as the Gators’ head softball coach.

“This is really hard for everyone. I feel bad that we didn’t get to play a full season.

“They are missing out on a lot of things, celebrating their accomplishments, all of the things that come with high school – representing their school with pride and the camaraderie that goes with it.

“In general, you understand the reason for this, and it is beyond our control.’’

The Gators’ last on-field activity together was a practice. On Friday the 13th. In the rain.

Shortly thereafter, the team was due to play its first game wearing its new uniforms, but that did not happen.

Other school activities such as the annual Fashion Show, dances and the annual Prom also were affected. Where graduation fits remains to be seen.

“That’s all part of the high school experience,’’ Downes said. “The prom is a big deal. Those in attendance get to see people dress differently in a way that people have not seen them.’’

Downes also is president of the Arizona Hotshots club softball organization. He is unsure of how the current situation might affect those seasons, including possible college recruiting.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Xavier pole vaulter soars through the sky

There still is a glimmer of hope that Arizona’s spring sports season can be salvaged in the wake of the Covid-19 (Corona) virus that is surrounding the globe.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey said late last week that the state’s schools will be closed at least until April 10, which is the start of Easter Weekend. A decision would be made around that time whether schools would reopen and whether sports would follow suit.

For those such as Xavier Prep junior athlete Macy Kerwin, a glimmer of hope is better than no hope at all. And even if the season comes to a screeching halt, she has the secure feeling of knowing she will be back as a senior in 2021.

Xavier junior pole vaulter Macy Kerwin (Photo by Don Ketchum).
Kerwin has been soaring through the air as her technique and results in the pole vault improve on a regular basis. She also competes in the 4x100-meter relay and the 100-meter dash.

Kerwin’s focus on the pole vault has been impressive to Xavier head coach Dave Van Sickle. She works with the Xavier team two or three times a week and twice with Nick Hysong, her club coach. Hysong, who won an Olympic Gold Medal in 2000, attended Arizona State and Tolleson High.

“Macy is just learning, but she has good speed and is one of the fastest on our team,’’ Van Sickle said.

“Hysong said she’s one of the fastest vaulters he has coached. He encouraged us to get her out in other events to learn more about how to run.’’

Now it can be difficult to get her to stop working.

“She’s hooked on it, really into it,’’ Van Sickle said. “Sometimes it seems like you have to pry her hands away from the pole. You say to her, “OK, it’s time to go home.’ ’’

Kerwin’s personal best, set earlier this spring, is 8 feet, at a dual met against Gilbert Perry.

“It’s something I can work on year-round,’’ she said.

For much of her early life (about 10 years), Kerwin was a gymnast. She also was in cheer but suffered an injury.

Then she became involved with the pole vault. It was not easy, to be sure. It had more frustration than success in the beginning. Others with less discipline might have quit.

“I wasn’t really clearing heights for weeks,’’ Kerwin said. “It was discouraging. But I kept going to the point where everything began to feel natural.’’

Many pole vaulters are on the taller side and have longer arms and legs. Kerwin is about 5-feet-4.

“It doesn’t always matter how tall you are,’’ she said.

Success comes from learning how fast to run, not a full sprint, and using the proper posture.

When she finally began to clear the bar on a regular basis, “it was like a big weight had been lifted off my shoulders,’’ she said. “When you do that, it gives you more confidence.’’

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Xavier community stays strong in wake of virus

Footprints on the moon.

They were not seen until since July 20, 1969, and new ones have not been seen since.

This is uncharted territory.

The world has not experienced anything of a similar nature until 2020, when the COVID-19 virus has descended upon us.

Life goes on, but not in the way to which we have become accustomed.

To do their part and limit the spread of this health adversary, schools across the nation are closing at least temporarily.

That includes Xavier College Prep, Brophy Prep and other schools in the Valley operated by the Diocese of Phoenix.

On Thursday (March 19), Xavier will be practicing “distance learning,’’ through programs such as Canvas, a learning management system and online course platform that provides a digital learning environment.

Students will experience a similar school day as before, except not on campus. It will be on their laptops, and even a daily roll call will be a part of the process through at least March 27.

Thursday was a busy day for Xavier teachers and students with "distance learning.''  Students are away from campus. From top, Shelly Cahill, student government, Lou Iavoco, statistics, and Stella Ollersaba, algebra 2/trigonometry. (Photos by Sr. Lynn Winsor).

Girls were able to come on campus through Wednesday to pick up books and other learning materials.

“I even saw a few walking down the hall today. We are getting ready to do this thing, and we want to be able to do it the right way,’’ said Sr. Lynn Winsor, XCP Vice-Principal for Activities and the school’s long-time Athletic Director.

“We are making sure we communicate with everyone on all of the issues. The girls told me they are checking their e-mails (XCP group e-mails) every day to keep up with what is happening.’’

Perhaps it is safe to say that athletics are the most near and dear to Sr. Lynn’s heart.

Games will not resume until March 30 at the earliest, according to a decision made by the Arizona Interscholastic Association. And no team activities or practices for Xavier until that time.

The AIA is hoping that there still will be enough time to hold state tournaments in the spring sports (for girls: beach volleyball, softball, tennis and track and field), in late April and early May. The AIA is due to meet again on Monday (March 23) for an update, according to Sr. Lynn.

Athletes have been in communication with their coaches, but it bears repeating that no team practices will be held. If an athlete wants to maintain their edge on their own, that is permitted, but nothing in groups.

“We will continue to evaluate our next steps from the Governor’s (Doug Ducey) office, the CDC (Center for Disease Control), and of course, the Diocese,’’ Sr. Lynn said.

The school’s maintenance staff has done a great job making certain that all the places around campus receive a thorough cleaning, including buses.

“You want to make sure that everything is perfectly safe,’’ Sr. Lynn said.

Some school activities over these few weeks have been canceled or postponed, and Sr. Lynn said she feels bad for the seniors.

On March 16, Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted suspended all weekday and Sunday masses, effective immediately, until further notice.

That doesn’t mean that people can’t slip inside the church and pray, Sr. Lynn said.

“There are a lot of prayers going on. There are a lot of victims, whether they are ill or have passed away,’’ she said.  “The Xavier community has always been good about praying. It is what we do. You always want to be positive and upbeat.’’

During this last week, Sr. Lynn has experienced another rare occurrence in the wake of these life-changing times.

“Just about every day, I don’t get home until at least 8 (p.m.) because all of the activities,’’ she said. “This week, I have been getting home by 3. That just doesn’t happen, certainly not for a full week.

“The bottom line is, I miss being out there with the kids.’’

Hopefully, we all will return to normal sooner rather than later.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Track's Brohard makes the right decision

Sometimes it takes awhile for an athlete to determine which sport fits them best. They look around, go for a “test drive,’’ so to speak, and then come to a decision.

For Xavier Prep senior Sophie Brohard, that came in her early years as a Gator. She had played club soccer for awhile and even tried it as a freshman here.
But she eventually chose track and field, in part because it wasn’t as time-consuming, and “because I got pretty decent at it (track). I really liked it,’’ she said.

That efficiency has carried her through her older Xavier years to the spring of 2020, when the senior is an integral part of what the team is trying to accomplish.

She is a mainstay in the 200- and 400-meter dashes and appears in at least one relay event, the 4x400.

Senior Sophie Brohard shows speed in several events for Xavier. (Photo by Don Ketchum).
Brohard won the 200 and 400 in a dual meet against Gilbert Perry last week and finished seventh in the 400 in last weekend’s Aztec Invitational at Tempe Corona del Sol.

She will compete in the annual AMDG Invitational on Thursday (March 12) at the Brophy Sports Campus (weather permitting).

“Sophie has been with us all four years and you have been able to see the improvement each year,’’ said Xavier track and field head coach Dave Van Sickle.

Said Brohard: “You’re out there and just trying to go as fast as you can,’’ she said.

Brohard and some of her teammates have been working with a new speed coach, Tim O’Neil, and that seems to be working out well.

She admires her teammates who run in distance events. She tried cross country for about a week in the early days, but found that it wasn’t her cup of tea.

“To me, there is a certain kind of pain that you get from distance events than you do from the sprints,’’ she said. “The distance pain seems to hang around more and takes longer to go away, but the sprints are just there and gone.’’

As race time draws near, she keeps her distance from her opponents and doesn’t talk much, preferring to focus on listening to music.

“Depending on the day, it can relax you or get you pumped up,’’ she said.

When she graduates from Xavier, she might attend college at either the University of Arizona or the University of Texas at Austin and study business. Track might not be on the agenda, although she said she might consider “walking on.’’

She would want to feel that she made the right decision, just as she did at Xavier.

A memorable time for Mackey, XCP lacrosse

The rain came rolling in, but it wasn’t enough to put out the flame on Nina Mackey’s birthday candle.

Mackey had three goals, one of three Xavier Prep players with three or more, as the Gators put forth a strong effort on Tuesday night (March 10) with a 15-10 victory over Phoenix Horizon at Petznick Field.

The win was Xavier’s third in a row and put the Gators’ overall record at 3-2. Horizon fell to 1-3.

Mackey, a senior, had her own cheering section that sang “Happy Birthday’’ on a few occasions, and her teammates also sang after the match.

So, Nina, what’s better, satisfying the sweet tooth with a big slice of cake or getting a hat trick on your birthday?

“It’s better getting those goals and doing it with all of the support from my friends and family,’’ Mackey said.

Xavier scored three goals in the first eight minutes of the contest, and never let the Huskies get closer than two goals the rest of the way.

“It was good that we were able to get that early lead,’’ Mackey said. “It’s better that way than the other way around.’’

And it appears that the Gators are playing with more consistency during this current stretch.

Mackey agreed.

“In some of the other seasons, we would win some, but usually not in a row. It was broken up by a loss here and a loss there,’’ she said.

Freshman Keilani Hong nearly had a “double’’ hat trick with five goals and senior Tara Kobierowski had three goals. Freshman Joan Walton and senior Bridget Wickers each scored twice.

Xavier also did a good job defensively with eight “clears,’’ with senior goalkeeper Tanya Barakat initiating the plays sending the ball out and the Gators getting the ball down field quickly to enhance their chances of getting a good shot at the goal.

"In the practices, we’ve had a lot more focus, a lot more intensity, and that has helped us with our passing and catching and following through,’’ said Xavier co-coach Jen Nevatt.

“If we stay disciplined, we have the capability to win.’’

Xavier’s next two matches will be on the road, on March 17 at Tempe Corona del Sol and March 19 at Scottsdale Desert Mountain.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Big OT victory puts lacrosse at .500

Keep pushing, don’t let up, keep pushing.

Xavier Prep’s club lacrosse team had come this far, so it wasn’t about to stop now.

As the clock wound down in overtime against the Phoenix Pinnacle Blue team on a sun-splashed Saturday (March 7), the Gators brought the exciting, hard-fought game to a successful conclusion.

Senior Nina Mackey stole a Pinnacle pass near midfield, tossed it high to freshman Joan Walton, who was moving toward the goal, and Walton found the back of the net for the 12-11 game-winner with 1:03 remaining.

It was Xavier’s second win in a row and put the Gators at 2-2 overall, with 36 goals for and 36 against. The Gators will return to action on Tuesday (March 10) with a home game at Petznick Field against Phoenix Horizon.

The Blue team is one of two Pinnacle teams, and Xavier is due to play Pinnacle White on March 25 at Pinnacle.

Xavier and Pinnacle Blue went back and forth most of the day. Pinnacle took the early lead, Xavier moved ahead to lead at halftime, and each time the Gators would score in the second half, Pinnacle would get right back in it.

Senior Tara Kobierowski scored her second goal of the game with 8:19 left in regulation to make it 11-10, but Pinnacle answered with the tying goal with 5:49 left.

“The important thing for us today was all about possession,’’ said Xavier co-coach Diana Oduho. “Sometimes we were too happy just to drive through traffic. We needed to take care of the ball, and I think we did a good job of that just about every single time.’’

Senior Bridget Wickers led the Xavier scoring with a hat trick, followed by Mackey, freshman Keilani Hong and Kobierowski with two each and Walton, freshman Gigi Riviere, and freshman Cassie Worth with one each.

Friday, March 6, 2020

Improved beach play helps XCP win again

Two for two.

Xavier Prep’s beach volleyball team scored its second victory in as many matches on Friday (March 6), 4-1 over visiting Anthem Boulder Creek.

The Gators had defeated Chandler Basha by the same score a week ago and this time looked as though they had smoothed out some of the rough edges.

XCP excelled with good placement on its shots, choosing to not rely on a power game as much.

The only setback, if you could even call it that, was a loss by the No. 1 team of Abby Converse and Serena Turner. The pair lost the first game, battled back to win the second and narrowly missed coming back to earn an overall sweep for the team as Boulder Creek won 15-13.

“The Boulder Creek (No. 1 team) was absolutely amazing,’’ said Xavier coach Tim McHale. “Our girls played well also. It’s tough that somebody had to lose a match like that.’’

The coach altered a few of the pairs that played against Basha.

One involved senior Grace Lincoln, who had been out with an injury. She got the OK to get back out on the sand and was paired with freshman Lexi Yoza at No. 3. They looked strong, winning 21-13 and 21-12.

The No. 4 duo of sophomore Alexa Shiner and senior Tori Burton lost their first match, but rallied to win two in a row.

Xavier will now have 10 days to refine its skills even more in practice, not playing again until March 16 when it faces Chandler High at Queen Creek Casteel.

Xavier Prep 4, Boulder Creek 1

No. 1 – BC def. Abby Converse-Serena Turner, X, 23-21, 18-21, 15-13.

No. 2 – Analy Carbine-Katie Antony, X, def. BC, 22-20, 21-15.

No. 3 – Grace Lincoln-Lexi Yoza, X, def. BC, 21-13, 21-12.

No. 4 – Alexa Shiner-Tori Burton, X, def. BC, 13-21, 21-14, 15-10.

No. 5 – Zaira Reyes-Summer McCann, X, def. BC, 22-20, 21-15.

Softball stays in yard, but Gators still win

You don’t always have to hit the ball over the fence to win a softball game.

Xavier Prep proved that on Friday (March 6) with a 2-0 victory over visiting Mesa Red Mountain at Petznick Field, winning on sacrifice flies by Cameron Martin and Berdina Riggs.

Xavier climbed to 8-1, while Red Mountain slipped to 5-4. Red Mountain eliminated Xavier 3-2 in the quarterfinals of the 6A Conference state tournament last season.

Sophomore pitcher Riley Flynn pitched her second two-hit shutout in as many days to earn the win.

Xavier will get a break until March 16, when it plays Avondale La Joya at Petznick Field.

Battery charge powers XCP softball to win

Xavier Prep pitcher Riley Flynn and her batterymate, catcher Macy Lee, combined to power the Gators to a 5-0 softball victory over host Glendale Mountain Ridge on Thursday (March 5).

Flynn tossed a two-hitter, walking three and striking out 15. Lee connected for a three-run home run in the fifth inning to extend XCP’s lead to 5-0 after the team scored twice in the first.

It was the second shutout win by the Gators over Mountain Ridge in less than a week. Xavier defeated the Mountain Lions 13-0 in the Sunrise Mountain tournament over the weekend.

Now Xavier (7-1) returns home to Petznick Field on Friday (March 6) for a game against Mesa Red Mountain (5-3). First pitch is at 3:45 p.m.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

A big blue Xavier wave sinks opponent

Some of Xavier's track and field athletes had time to gather for a photo in between events. (Photos by Sr. Lynn Winsor).
Xavier Prep’s track and field team had an encouraging start to its 2020 season on Wednesday (March 4), defeating Gilbert Perry 105-26 in a dual meet at the Brophy Sports Campus. Xavier’s JV team also won 32-22, and Brophy’s boys also competed against Perry.

Individual standouts were victories in the 200- and 400-meter dashes by senior Sophie Brohard and wins by sophomore Ellie Higgins in the 300-meter hurdles and high jump, along with a third-place finish in the long jump.

Junior Jozlyn Tanner won the discus and finished second in the shot put.

Xavier will next participate in the Aztec Invitational at Tempe Corona del Sol on Saturday (March 7) at 10 a.m.

Top photo, Xavier runners are bunched together in the 1,600. Bottom, Gators' Macy Kerwin slips over the bar in the pole vault.
Xavier Prep 105, Perry 26

XCP highlights

100-meter dash – Madigan Moran, 1st, 13.80.

200-meter dash – Sophie Brohard, 1st, 27.43; Amaka Alilonu, 3rd, 27.93.

400-meter dash – Brohard, 1st, 1:04.67; Maria Benitez, 2nd, 1:05.31; Tatum Goforth, 3rd, 1:06.41.

800-meter run – Mia Olsen, 1st, 2:29.66; Kylie Brown, 2nd, 2:31.88; Jamie Stelnik, 3rd, 2:32.21.

1,600-meter run – Ansley Burns, 1st, 5:37.91; Hannah Wheeling, 2nd, 5:40.97; Brooke Bream, 3rd, 5:46.17.

3,200-meter run – Emmie Halter, 1st, 13:01.00; Rishita Shah, 2nd, 13:20.00; Erika Germinario, 3rd, 13:34.00.

100-meter hurdles – Mia Portillo, 2nd, 19.85.

300-meter hurdles – Ellie Higgins, 1st, Portillo 3rd, 58.17.

4x100-meter relay – XCP 1st, 57.32.

4x400-meter relay – XCP “A”, 1st, 4:21.40; XCP “B”, 3rd, 4:52.01.

4x800-meter relay – XCP “A”, 1st, 10:19.00; XCP “B”, 12:01.00; XCP “C”, 3rd, 12:24.00.

High jump – Higgins, 1st, 4-10; Ruby Halperin, 2nd, 4-00.

Pole vault – Macy Kerwin, 1st, 8-00.

Long jump – Cierra Gonzalez, 2nd, 15-01; Higgins, 3rd, 14-05.

Shot put – Elena Soderstrom, 1st, 28-05; Jozlin Tanner, 2nd, 26-01.

Discus – Tanner, 1st, 78-11; Bethany Barnwell, 2nd, 74-08; Serena Banghar, 3rd, 64-10.

Xavier tennis raises record to 3-0

The victories just keep on coming for Xavier Prep’s tennis team.

The Gators won their second straight match in as many days and third overall on Wednesday (March 4) at Tempe Corona del Sol, 7-2, the first of four straight road matches. The Gators’ JV team also won 5-4.

Xavier singles winners were Erica Stutz, Emily Even, Katelyn Cowan and Victoria Chrostowski.

The team plays next on Tuesday (March 10) at Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor.

Xavier Prep 7, Corona del Sol 2


Erica Stutz, X, def. CDS 6-0, 6-1; CDS def. Lorelei Glidden, X (score unavailable); Emily Even, X, def. CDS 6-3, 6-3; Katelyn Cowan, X, def. CDS 6-2, 6-3; Victoria Chrostowski, X, def. CDS 6-0, 6-0; CDS def. McKenzie Virden, X (Virden did not finish).


Glidden-Even, X, def. CDS 8-4; Cowan-Emilia Chrostowski, X, def. CDS 8-4; V. Chrostowski-Stutz, X, def. CDS 8-1.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Flynn's walk-off homer decides home opener

There probably is no better way for a team to win its home opener.

And it happened on Tuesday (March 3) for Riley Flynn and her Xavier Prep softball teammates.

Flynn, the Gators’ reliable sophomore pitcher, was attempting to make her mark this time with her bat.

The score was tied at 2 in the bottom of the seventh inning against Surprise Valley Vista. Freshman Berdina Riggs led off the frame with a base hit to center field. Coach Brad Downes inserted junior Lina Vanderwey as a pinch runner and Vanderwey was sacrificed to second by Elliot Smith.

With one out, Flynn stepped to the plate and made contact with the pitch from the Monsoon’s Alexandra Hess, sending it over the left-field fence for a walk-off, two-run homer and a 4-2 victory.

Flynn rounded the bases and was greeted by a swarm of blue-clad teammates. Oh, yes, and she earned the pitching victory by scattering seven hits.

Xavier softball players spill onto the field to greet Riley Flynn after her game-winning home run in the bottom of the seventh inning (Photos by Sr. Lynn Winsor).

Riley Flynn fires a pitch against Valley Vista as third baseman Meghan Schouten, left, gets ready to make a play if the ball is hit to her.
Xavier, which earlier in the day had been listed at No. 7 in’s Super 10 teams (regardless of classification), raised its record to 6-1. Valley Vista slipped to 2-6.

Was Flynn looking for any particular pitch from Hess, considering she had faced her twice previously in the game, including her two-out single to center field in the fifth?

“She was throwing a lot of inside pitches, belt-high, and I thought she might throw me another one,’’ Flynn said.

When the ball left the bat, she did not think it was going to leave the yard.

“A pop-up, maybe. But I guess the wind helped it,’’ she said.

Xavier coach Brad Downes wasn’t sure at first, either.

“I saw it up there, and then it got out,’’ he said. “That was one way to do it (get the win).’’

Flynn had pitched all six of the Gators’ games in the Sunrise Mountain tournament over the weekend. Despite a couple of days off, did she still feel a bit of fatigue?

“A little bit, but I was mostly back,’’ she said. “I was still a little sore, but it wasn’t anything that was unmanageable.’’

Xavier's Gators (in blue) and Valley Vista Monsoon face the flag during the National Anthem.
Xavier took a 2-0 lead in the second when senior Cameron Martin and Riggs produced runs with hits. Riggs would finish the day with three hits.

Valley Vista got the runs right back in the top of the third on four hits and an error. The Monsoon had runners at second with only one out, but Flynn escaped with a pop fly to shortstop and a strikeout.

Flynn helped herself with some defense in the top of the fifth. The leadoff batter hit a double to left that was affected both by the wind and the sun, and the next batter squared up to bunt. The ball was popped up in foul ground on the third-base side. Flynn rushed over, took a tumble just as she crossed the foul line but still managed to catch the ball.

Martin, the right fielder, then caught a fly ball for the second out and threw the runner out at third as Meghan Schouten made the tag.

“That was an important play. It made a big difference for us,’’ Downes said.

Xavier will travel to face Glendale Mountain Ridge on Thursday (March 5) at 4 p.m. The Gators defeated Mountain Ridge 13-0 in the Sunrise Mountain tournament. Xavier will return home to Petznick Field on Friday (March 6) for a game against Mesa Red Mountain. First pitch is at 3:45 p.m.


*It appears that sophomore shortstop Bridget Donahey will not be sidelined as long as first thought when she suffered a fracture of her right forearm when hit by a pitch against Phoenix Greenway in the Sunrise Mountain tournament on Saturday (March 1). Donahey was feared to be out for six weeks, but it apparently will only be half that long.

*Xavier players were happy to see a friendly face in their dugout. Former Gator pitcher Kylie Rodgers, who graduated in 2019 after being declared cancer-free and going through a courageous battle with lengthy treatments, was announced as a graduate assistant coach. The cancer has returned, however, and she is receiving more treatment. Please keep her in your prayers, Gator Nation!!

*Congratulations are in order for Cameron Martin, whose application to attend prestigious Dartmouth College, has been accepted and she will be attending the New Hampshire school beginning this fall.

Lacrosse earns first victory of season

Xavier Prep’s club lacrosse team earned its first victory of the young season on Monday (March 2), getting five goals from Keilani Hong and three from Tara Kobierowski on the way to a 13-7 conquest of visiting Gilbert Higley.

Others scoring goals for the Gators were Nina Mackey, Joan Walton, Bridget Wickers, Bella Giannini and Gigi Riviere.

Xavier (1-2) will play another home match on Saturday (March 7) at 10:30 a.m. against the Phoenix Pinnacle Blue team.

Xavier tennis again on the mark

Top photo, assistant coach Ford Oliver provides instructions to a Xavier doubles tandem; Middle, a Gator makes a strong return; Bottom,  Xavier players show their support. (Photos by Sr. Lynn Winsor).
Xavier Prep’s tennis team scored another 9-0 sweep in its second match of the season, this time against visiting Gilbert Highland on Tuesday (March 3). The JV also won 8-1.

Varsity singles winners were Ryan Kershner, Lorelei Glidden, Emily Even, Katelyn Cowan, Victoria Chrostowski and Nyla Vranic.

The Gators were due to play their first road match of the season on Wednesday (March 4) at Tempe Corona del Sol.

Xavier Prep 9, Highland 0


Ryan Kershner, X, def. H 6-1, 6-0; Lorelei Glidden, X, def. H 6-1, 6-2; Emily Even, X, def. H 6-0, 6-0; Katelyn Cowan, X, def. H 6-0, 6-0; Victoria Chrostowski, X, def. H 6-0, 6-2; Nyla Vranic, X, def. H 6-1, 6-2.


Glidden-Even, X, def. H 8-3; Cowan-Emilia Chrostowski, X, def. H 8-0; V. Chrostowski-Vranic, X, def. H 8-2.

Monday, March 2, 2020

Bigger numbers = more track and field points?

With more athletes to work with than he has had in quite some time, it stands to reason that Xavier Prep coach Dave Van Sickle’s track and field team will have a chance to score more points at its meets this spring.

There are about 77 girls out this season, “one of the bigger teams we’ve had,’’ he said.

The athletes represent all four classes, and cover just about every event.

Xavier finished eighth in the Division I state meet last season, with perennial powerhouse Chandler High leading the way in every year but one over the last decade.

Van Sickle said this year’s group of Gators is “comparable,’’ but wouldn’t be surprised if the girls finished a bit higher.

The biggest loss is Jada Sims, who picked up points in many events along the way. After graduating, she moved on to Vanderbilt University in Tennessee.

Xavier probably doesn’t have an individual capable of making that type of impact, but collectively, the Gators still will have a chance to put some decent points on the board.

Van Sickle also is the school’s cross-country coach, so he should have his usual contingent of quality distance and middle-distance runners.

“We will be strong there,’’ he said.

Xavier also has been traditionally solid in the relays.

The coach is interested to see how senior Sophie Brohard fares in a number of events, including the 400 and the 4x400 relay.

Junior Macy Kerwin will be one of the Gators who will carry the banner in the field events, notably the pole vault.

Sophomore Maria Benitez, a cross-country runner, also provides some versatility in the 400, the 800, hurdles and a few relays.

Xavier’s first meet will be a dual against Gilbert Perry on Wednesday at the Brophy Sports Campus (4 p.m.)

Xavier Prep 2020 Track & Field roster

(Athletes listed alphabetically)

Head coach + distance – Dave Van Sickle. Pole vault – Alex Bishop. Throws – Shaun Fitzgerald. Distance – Eden Higgins. Distance – Vito Perrone. Sprints – Ryan Regula. Assistant – Andrea Williams.

D – Distance. SJH – Sprints/jumps/hurdles. MD – Middle distance. SDJ – Shot, discus, javelin. PV – Pole vault.

Catherine Alaimo, So., D; Amaka Alilonu, Sr., SJH; Sarai Arkeveld, Fr., MD; Sofia Asher, So., SJH.

Serena Banghar, Jr., SDJ; Bethany Barnwell, Jr., SDJ; Maria Benitez, So., SJH; Brooke Besh, Jr., PV; Lauren Besh, Jr., PV; Grace Bianchi, Fr., MD; Sam Braun, Jr., MD; Brooke Bream, Jr., MD; Sophie Brohard, Sr., SJH; Kyle Brown, Fr., MD; Morgan Brown, Sr., MD; Ansley Burns, So., D.

Caroline Calihan, Jr., MD; Briony Campisi, So., SJH; Olivia Charles, Fr., D; Citali Chimal, Jr., SDJ.

Cat Devine, So., D.

Callie Ehmann, Fr., SJH; Collins Entz, Fr.

Morgan Finch, Fr., SJH; Lulu Fischer, So., D; Calista Flick, Fr., D; Lily Foster, Fr., SJH.

Alessandra Galasso, Sr., SJH; Erika Germinario, So., D; Tatum Goforth, So., SJH; Anna Gong, Sr. Cierra Gonzalez, So., SJH.

Ruby Halperin, Jr., PV; Emmie Halter, Jr., D; Sophia Healy, Jr., D; Ellie Higgins, So., SJH; Ania Hiler, Jr., SJH.

Macy Kerwin, Jr., PV; Grace Kline, So., MD; Isabella Kobierowski, So., SJH.

Taylor Linaman, Fr., MD; Lily Londen, So.

Abby Macaluso, So., D; Taryn Maher, Jr., MD; Macarthy Mahoney, So.; Marissa Mansour, So., MD; Emily Manuelito, Fr., D; Charlotte McClelland, So., D; Grace McClelland, Fr., SJH; Alma Melendez, Fr., D; Jessica Mirmelli, Sr., D; Karime Morales, So., D; Madigan Moran, Fr., SJH.

Mia Olsen, Sr., D; Mikayla Osborne, Fr., MD.

Barbara Paez, Fr., D; Mia Portillo, So., SJH.

Lindsay Roney, Jr., MD; Cassara Ryan, Fr., D; Riley Ryan, So., MD.

Rishita Shah, Jr., D; Reyna Silva, Fr., D; Elena Soderstrom, So., SDJ; Molly Stegman, Jr., PV; Jamie Stelnik, Jr., D.

Jozlin Tanner, Jr., SDJ; Grace Teevan, So., D; Bella Titus, Fr., D.

Reagan Van Norman, Jr., SDJ.

Morgan Webber, Fr.; Maia Weingard, So., MD; Hannah Wheeling, So., D; Ryie Wood, Fr., SDJ.

Cece Yanes, So.; Naomi Young, Fr., D.

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Gator softball 2nd in tourney, shortstop out

Riley Flynn’s arm probably felt like it was going to fall off. Same thing for Bridget Donahey, but for a different reason.

It all added up to a bittersweet finish for Xavier Prep’s softball team on Saturday (Feb. 29) in championship bracket play at the annual Sunrise Mountain Tournament at Pioneer Community Park in Peoria.

The Gators scored two impressive wins early in the day, but couldn’t get the timely hits that coach Brad Downes wanted in the afternoon championship game against Peoria Centennial.

A three-run outburst by Centennial in the bottom of the sixth inning overcame a 2-1 Xavier lead for a 4-2 victory.

Xavier wrapped up the tournament with wins in five out of six games. The team scored in double figures in four of those.

“They (Xavier players) played well. It was a good weekend,’’ Downes said. “We are a lot better off than we were a couple of years ago (when Downes was an assistant). I don’t think we even won a game in the tournament then, but now we have five and it’s something to build on.’’

Just as she did a year ago in her freshman season, Flynn shouldered the load in the pitching circle.

She pitched 17 2/3 innings in the three games that covered nearly seven hours with a few brief breaks in between. One guesstimate had her throwing close to 250 or so pitches. And don’t forget another amazing feat – junior catcher Macy Lee caught every one of those pitches. That can take a toll on the knees.

In the bottom of the sixth, Berdina Riggs, one of two freshman pitchers for Xavier this season, got the final out after Meghan Golden, the starting and winning pitcher for Centennial, produced the decisive two-run single off of Flynn.

Downes admitted that Flynn “was a little tired at the end. She pitched in six games over three days. It’s been awhile since she’s done something like that.’’

Earlier on Saturday, Flynn worked an 11-0 win over Phoenix Greenway and a 13-2 win over Surprise Shadow Ridge.

Flynn will have a few days to rest up before going back out there for Xavier’s home opener at Petznick Field on Tuesday (March 3) against Surprise Valley Vista.

For about the next six weeks, it will be Downes’ job to figure out how his team will move forward in the wake of the loss of Donahey, a sophomore shortstop who is coming into her own among Arizona’s elite.

In the third inning against Greenway, Donahey was hit by a pitch in the right (throwing) arm, about halfway between the elbow and the wrist. She left the game shortly thereafter, and did not return to play in either of the other two games. A makeshift splint/cast was put on the arm, but Donahey was taken to a nearby medical facility by her father, and X-rays revealed a fracture.

She returned in the late stages of the game against Centennial and put up a brave front, trying to laugh it off. The arm was in a sling and she went out on the field to encourage her teammates in between innings, giving them high fives with her left arm/hand.

“The good thing about our team is that we have some nice interchangeable parts,’’ Downes said.

After Donahey’s departure, Downes moved some chess pieces around, switching sophomore Meghan Schouten from second base to third base, junior Jazmin Andrade from third base to shortstop and junior Sydney Johnson from outfield to second base.

For the time being, that likely will be what fans will see when the Gators play defense. Donahey’s older sister, Katie, a senior center fielder, also can play shortstop if needed. She put in a lot of time there as a sophomore.

“This situation is nothing they haven’t seen or been involved with in practice from time to time,’’ Downes said. “Jazmin in particular is a terrific third baseman, but she also is a very good shortstop because she plays at that spot on a regular basis in club ball.’’

Junior outfielder Lana Kline might take on a bigger role. She can use her speed on defense and offense can be used as a slap/bunt/leadoff type. She had two bunt singles in the win over Shadow Ridge.