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, February 23, 2022

Beach, softball still traveling the title road?

 The spring of 2021 was one of the most memorable times in Xavier Prep’s sports history, with softball putting its first title on the XCP board and beach volleyball winning it all for the eighth time in nine tries.

So will there be repeat performances by the Gators in 2022? We will find out before long. Beach was to have begun its season on Wednesday (Feb. 23) against Oro Valley (Tucson) Ironwood Ridge, but the match was postponed due to rain.

The same might be true for softball, which is entered in the annual Sunrise Mountain Invitational in Peoria, with games on Thursday (Feb. 24), Friday (Feb. 25) and Saturday (Feb. 26) at the new Paloma Park in north Peoria, near the intersection of Dixileta Dr. and the Loop 303.

Beach volleyball finished 16-0 last season with a win over Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor in the title match and has quite a few players returning, along with some who have excelled for the Gators’ indoor volleyball team.

One of the top returnees is junior Summer McCann, who also teamed with now-graduated Serena Turner to claim the 6A pairs championship. Other returnees of note are sophomore Finley Workman, senior Katie Anthony, senior Landree Coats, and junior Maddie MacDonald.

Players coming aboard from indoor are expected o include senior Alexa Shiner, senior Emma Soderstrom, freshman Olivia Lenz and senior Tiffany Tellez.

Tim McHale is back for another season as the head coach, with assistants Kelly Ross, Rachel McDonald and volunteer assistant Cierra Flood .

Softball had a monumental 19-2 season that was punctuated by a 10-0, 5-inning victory over Mesa Red Mountain in the title game at the University of Arizona’s Hillenbrand Stadium in Tucson.

The Gators feature two of the state’s top players in senior pitcher Riley Flynn and senior shortstop Bridget Donahey.

The team lost star catcher Macy Lee, who ripped a grand slam in the title game, to graduation. She is a freshman at Michigan State.

Plenty of big bats return, however, with Donahey, senior second baseman Meghan Schouten and a hit-to-all-fields leadoff hitter in sophomore Lauren Putz. Additional key contributors are expected to be senior outfielder-catcher Elliot Smith and senior outfielder Emma Petersen.

The Gators’ head coach is Brad Downes, with Deryk Sexton and Tom Sahhar serving as assistants.


(listed alphabetically)

Katie Anthony, Sr.; Landree Coats, Sr.; Salma De Los Reyes, So.; Ella Dickson, So.; Abby Gliss, So.; Dina Gorman, Jr.; Jaina Kaiser, Fr.; Olivia Lenz, Fr.; Lauren Lopez, Fr.; Maddie MacDonald, Jr.; Holly Matchinsky, Fr.; Summer McCann, Jr.; Mei Morales-Tsou, Jr.; Noelle Peterson, Jr.; Kaelyn Putz, So.; Paulina Ramirez, Jr.; Samantha Riggle, Fr.; Alexa Shiner, Sr.; Emma Soderstrom, Sr.; Tiffany Tellez, Sr.; Trinity Tran, So.;Angela Valentine, Jr.; Lauren Vanderwey, Jr.; Finley Workman, So.


(Subject to change)

Wed. 2/23 – Oro Valley Ironwood Ridge @ XCP, 4 p.m., ppd., rain.

Mon. 2/28 – Phoenix Sunnyslope @ XCP, 4 p.m.

Wed. 3/2 – Mesa High @ XCP, 4 p.m.

Wed. 3/9 -- @ Queen Creek Casteel, 4 p.m.

Fri. 3/11 -- @ Buckeye Verrado, 4 p.m.

Mon. 3/14 -- @Mesa Westwood, 4 p.m.

Wed. 3/16 – Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor @ Victory Lane Complex, Glendale, 4 p.m.

Mon. 3/21 – Phoenix Desert Vista @ XCP, 4 p.m.

Mon. 3/28 – Chandler Hamilton @ XCP, 4 p.m.

Fri. 4/1 – Gilbert Perry @ XCP, 4 p.m.

Wed. 4/6 – vs. Chandler Basha @ Queen Creek Casteel, 4 p.m.

Tue. 4/12 – vs. Chandler High @ Queen Creek Casteel, 4 p.m.


(listed alphabetically)

Bridget Donahey, Sr.; Nayeli Felix, So.; Riley Flynn, Sr.; Izzy Hycnar, Jr.; Grace Lobocki, Jr.; Rylee Matthews, Fr.; Riley McKeever, Fr.; Norah O’Donnell, Jr.; Emma Petersen, Sr.; Lauren Putz, So.; Rubi Roman, Jr.; Meghan Schouten, Sr.; Elliot Smith, Sr.; Avery Stayer, So.; Tabitha Von Kolen, So.



(Subject to change)

Thu.  2/24 – Sunrise Mtn. tournament vs. Phoenix Paradise Valley, 6 p.m., Paloma Park, Peoria.

Fri. 2/25 – Sunrise Mtn. tournament vs. Peoria Centennial, 10 a.m., vs. Surprise Willow Canyon, noon, Paloma Park, Peoria.

Sat. 2/26 – Sunrise Mtn. tournament bracket play @ 10 a.m., noon & 2 p.m., Paloma Park, Peoria.

Tue. 3/1 – Mesa Westwood @ XCP, 3:45 p.m.

Wed. 3/2 -- @ Phoenix Mountain Pointe, 3:45 p.m.

Tue. 3/8 -- @ Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor, 3:45 p.m.

Thu. 3/10 – Phoenix Pinnacle @ XCP, 3:45 p.m.

Tue. 3/15 – Phoenix Alhambra @ XCP, 3:45 p.m.

Fri. 3/18 -- @ Scottsdale Chaparral, 3:45 p.m.

Tue. 3/22 -- @ Chandler Basha, 3:45 p.m.

Fri. 3/25 -- @ Phoenix Desert Vista, 3:45 p.m.

Tue. 3/29 – Gilbert Perry @ XCP, 3:45 p.m.

Fri. 4/1 – Mesa Red Mountain @ XCP, 3:45 p.m.

Mon. 4/4 -- @ Chandler Hamilton, 3:45 p.m.

Thu. 4/7 – Chandler Basha @ XCP, 3:45 p.m.

Fri. 4/8 -- @ Chandler High, 3:45 p.m.

Tue. 4/12 -- @ Tucson High, 3:45 p.m.

Tue. 4/19 – Chandler High @ XCP, 3:45 p.m.

Wed. 4/20 -- @ Gilbert Perry, 3:45 p.m.

Thu. 4/21 – Phoenix Sunnyslope @ XCP, 3:45 p.m.

Mon. 4/25 – Chandler Hamilton @ XCP, 3:45 p.m.

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