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, May 25, 2021

AIA rewards Lee, Putz, Gator softball crew

 It was undeniably the best softball season in Xavier Prep history.

The numbers speak for themselves – 19 victories in 21 games, including a resounding 10-0 triumph in five innings over Mesa Red Mountain for the 6A Conference state championship on May 17 at the University of Arizona, Xavier’s first-ever softball crown.

And with that victory goes the team trophy and some individual accolades for Xavier players in voting by the state’s coaches for the Arizona Interscholastic Association All-6A teams.

Notification came on Tuesday (May 25) through Xavier coach Brad Downes, and as the celebratory confetti reached the ground, Xavier had five players on the First Team.

Senior catcher Macy Lee was the overall Player of the Year and freshman third baseman Lauren Putz was selected as the Offensive Player of the Year.

Other Gators receiving the First Team designation were junior pitcher Riley Flynn, junior shortstop Bridget Donahey and junior outfielder Elliot Smith. Putz, Donahey and Smith were listed as position players.

“It really is quite an accomplishment. We had a great season,’’ said Downes. “This recognition was well-earned by the girls. They played hard and did the work.

“This was not an overnight success. The players have had their share of challenges along the way, and they can take stock in the lessons they have learned.’’

The players also held each other accountable, he said, which added to the discipline aspect.

“They motivated each other,’’ Downes said.

Lee, who will be heading off to Michigan State to study and play softball, hit .522 with 36 hits and 30 RBIs. She had 13 doubles and five home runs, including a memorable grand slam in the state championship game.

She was as proficient on defense as she was on offense. She did not make an error, and she guided Flynn along the way, keeping her calm in the event of rough spots.

Putz hit .493 and was the Gators’ leadoff hitter for most of the season because she made such good contact to all parts of the field. She scored 34 runs, had 34 hits, 20 RBIs, six doubles, four triples and three homers.

Flynn finished with a 16-2 record and a 1.62 earned-run average, with 178 strikeouts in 108 innings, and even recorded a save.

Donahey hit .408 with 29 hits, 30 RBIs, seven doubles and a team-high 10 homers.

Smith played most of the time in right field, where she was a solid defender. On offense, she hit .451 with 23 hits, including a pair of doubles and a pair of triples. She was perhaps the team’s best bunter.

All-Premier Region honors

Lee and Putz were the Overall and Offensive Players of the Year.

Flynn, Donahey and Smith were First Team choices, while senior first baseman Jazmin Andrade and junior second baseman Meghan Schouten were on the Second Team. A pair of outfielders, senior Sydney Johnson and junior Emma Petersen, were listed as Honorable Mention.

The Premier is made up of Xavier, Chandler High, Chandler Hamilton, Gilbert Perry and Chandler Basha.

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