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.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Xavier softball receives a large dose of reality

 There are many ways for a softball team to set the tone in a game, and Chandler Hamilton wasted no time in establishing itself against host Xavier Prep on Tuesday (April 6) at Petznick Field.

It happened when the Cailynn Parsons, the Huskies’ leadoff hitter in the first inning, had a 12-pitch at-bat against Xavier ace pitcher Riley Flynn.

Parsons stayed alive, fouling off pitch after pitch, until she dropped a fly ball into shallow center field for a hit, as Xavier center fielder Emma Petersen lunged for the ball but could not come up with it.

With one out and runners at first and second, Hamilton cleanup hitter Liv Lostorto made contact and there was no doubt where the ball was going – over the fence in right-center.

Hamilton would go on to finish with four home runs for the day, including two by Lostorto, and Xavier fell from the unbeaten ranks with a 6-4 loss, going from the euphoria of a huge extra-inning win at Gilbert Perry a week ago to the frustration created by this outcome.

“You’re going to have games like this,’’ said Xavier Coach Brad Downes, whose team is now 5-1. “You just have to be ready to play every day. That didn’t happen, so I guess that’s on me. We’ll have to come out and have a good day of practice (Wednesday).’’

The home runs were the first ones to come off Flynn this season. It could have been an issue with speed, location, or both. And the fact that Hamilton was on its game.

“As a pitcher, you are going to have off days like that, and your teammates have to step up for you,’’ Downes said. “Riley (junior) has been fabulous for us for three years now, so you really can’t find fault.’’

Of the 12-pitch duel with Parsons to lead off the game, Downes said, “Riley normally averages maybe 15 pitches for an entire inning.’’

He added that the at-bat “helped them (Hamilton). They were very excited.’’

And there were a few small details that the Gators did not take care of early on and that contributed to the demise.

A sacrifice fly by Macy Lee brought home Xavier’s first run in the bottom of the first. The Gators cut the lead to 3-2 in the third, scoring on an error, and pulled even in the fourth on a wild pitch.

A home run by Kelly Downs put the Huskies back in front, 4-3, in the sixth. Back to back homers by Bella Angelo and Lostorto (her second of the game) made it 6-3 in the top of the seventh and lessened Xavier’s chances for a comeback.

Meghan Schouten got one run back with an infield bouncer that went off the third baseman’s glove, but that was it for the Gators.

Hamilton’s pitching of Allison Weyandt and Sophia Tassinari was enough to keep Xavier off balance, particularly the latter, who gave up a run and a hit in 3 2/3 innings of relief.

Xavier returns to action on Thursday (April 8) with a trip to Chandler Basha. The teams also met on March 23 at Xavier, with the Gators rolling to a 9-0 victory.

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