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.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Gator softball hasn't found a way to stop Hamilton

 There is no need to use algorithms, hieroglyphics or lengthy mathematical formulas to figure this one out.

The answer is simple . . .

Chandler Hamilton has got Xavier Prep’s number.

No matter what Xavier has tried to do against Hamilton on the softball field this spring, very little has worked. It’s one of those things – a team can beat virtually anyone else in the world except for this particular foe.

The first time was on April 6, when Hamilton handed the Gators their first loss of the season, 6-4, at XCP’s Petznick Field.

The second time on Monday (April 26) was even more decisive when Hamilton unleashed 14 hits, four of them home runs, to account for Xavier’s second loss, 13-7, at Hamilton.

It appeared initially that Xavier (11-2) might drop from the top spot on the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s power points list, but the Gators remained No. 1 on Tuesday (April 27) and again on Wednesday (April 28). Hamilton (12-5) now has won nine in a row in a streak that began with the first win at Xavier. The Huskies climbed briefly to No. 2 on Tuesday before settling in at No. 4 on Wednesday behind Queen Creek and Phoenix Sunnyslope.

It appeared that the Gators might be able to avoid a sweep when they scored three runs right off the bat in the first inning on a two-run homer by junior Bridget Donahey and a solo shot by senior Macy Lee for a 3-0 lead. The inning was then cut short when an XCP baserunner was caught in a rundown between second base and shortstop.

Hamilton got those runs back and then some with six runs in the second. Kelly Downs led off the inning with a home run and Kate Vance slugged a three-run homer to fan the flames against Xavier junior ace Riley Flynn.

Xavier tied it at 6 in the third on an RBI single by Donahey off an infielder’s glove, and a two-run single to left-center by junior Elliot Smith on the first pitch she saw.

The Hamilton lead went to 8-6 in the fourth and 13-7 in the fifth. Flynn gave Xavier its seventh run when she led off the top of the fifth with a homer.

The Gators did not help their cause with five errors, including a costly one in the second when the shortstop and second baseman brushed against each other and allowed a pop fly to drop near second base. That would have been the third out of the inning, but Vance, the next better, connected for the three-run homer.

In the third, a Gator baserunner was called out at third base when it was ruled that she interfered with the third baseman’s attempt to catch the ball on a sharply hit line drive along the foul line, the two making slight contact.

Donahey and Lee led the Gators with three hits each and Smith had two.

Xavier travels to Mesa on Thursday (April 29) for a game at Westwood.

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