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.

Friday, May 14, 2021

Gators earn shot at first state softball title

 Gas up the buses, we’re heading to Tucson for the biggest road trip in Xavier Prep softball history!!

The Gators will play for their first-ever state championship on Monday night at 7:30 against Mesa Red Mountain at the University of Arizona’s Hillenbrand Stadium. Xavier (18-2) is the tournament’s top seed while Red Mountain (18-5) is No. 7. The Mountain Lions won five straight state titles from 2010-14.

Both teams are coming into the finale at the right time.

Red Mountain advanced with a 3-2 semifinal win in 10 innings over No. 11 Surprise Shadow Ridge. Earlier in the tournament, Red Mountain eliminated No.2 Chandler Hamilton on a no-hitter by junior Taylor Trowbridge.

Xavier, meanwhile, is spreading the wealth on offense. The Gators have outscored their three tournament opponents 30-3. The last two wins, a quarterfinal and semifinal, were by the 10-run rule, over Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor and Phoenix Pinnacle, respectively.

Xavier also defeated Red Mountain 4-1 in a game in Mesa toward the end of the regular season. Junior second baseman Megan Schouten hit a home run for the Gators off Trowbridge in the first inning, and drove in a fourth run later on with a double. Infielder Brooklyn hit a home run for Red Mountain off Xavier junior ace Riley Flynn.

In the win over Pinnacle, Xavier scored five runs in the third inning to gain the upper hand. Schouten, Emma Petersen and Lauren Putz hit home runs for the Gators in the contest.

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