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.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Flynn strikes out all 15 in 5-inning softball win

 After his team’s first loss of the season on Tuesday (April 6), Xavier Prep softball coach Brad Downes wanted the Gators to come back and have a good practice on Wednesday (April 7).

He got it.

The next order of business was to have strong games against Chandler Basha on Thursday (April 8) and Chandler High on Friday (April 9).

He got them.

The latest conquest, against Chandler, was 10-0 and went only five innings due to the 10-run rule. Xavier is now 7-1.

It was a game in which junior pitcher Riley Flynn returned to form for the second straight day, giving up just one hit, one walk and recording all 15 Chandler outs on strikeouts.

Freshman Sofia Zielinski put the Gators over the top with a run-scoring single in the bottom of the fifth, her second RBI of the game. Junior Elliot Smith reached base three times, once on a hit, twice on walks, scored three runs and stole three bases.

And Downes might just have found himself a new leadoff hitter.

Freshman Lauren Putz has been making constant contact for most of the season, so he put her at leadoff and slipped junior Bridget Donahey to the No. 2 spot. The left-handed-hitting Putz responded with a pair of hits and an RBI.

“She hasn’t been a leadoff hitter, but she appears to have all the things you need to be a good one,’’ Downes said.

He added that Thursday’s game (12-0, 5-inning win over Basha) was a complete game and that the Chandler game was similar.

“We had practiced really well and we were thinking about the situations where we might have better production,’’ he said.

And of Flynn’s effort, he said, “She threw real well, more like herself. It’s tough for a pitcher – three games in a week.’’

Xavier’s schedule relaxes somewhat next week with only one game – on Tuesday (April 13) against Tucson High at Petznick Field.

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