Bio

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 AIA365.com, the web site of the Arizona Interscholastic Association.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

What? XCP surprisingly on short end of 10-run rule

 No, this is not a misprint.

Yes, you probably never thought you would see Xavier Prep’s softball team, which could author a book on how to put together a 10-run victory and go home early, found itself on the opposite end of that scenario on Tuesday (March 22) when it was stunned by host Chandler Basha 10-0 in five innings.

Xavier dropped to 10-3 while Basha climbed to 9-3.

It didn’t take long to notice that something was amiss with the Gators.

As the visiting team, they stood in against a rising sophomore pitcher, Natalie Fritz, to begin the game. It was almost as if they were a bit surprised in regard to how fast some of her pitches got in on them. The first two batters struck out and it set the tone.

Fritz went on to give up just three hits and struck out six.

“I guess you could say that they (Gator hitters) were swinging in an attempt to match (Fritz’s) power,’’ said Xavier coach Brad Downes.

Meanwhile, Xavier senior pitcher Riley Flynn was having a day to forget.

She gave up three runs on four hits in the first inning, three runs on three hits in the third inning, and four runs on six hits in the fourth inning, two runs coming on a home run by Alma Quinney that landed just over the fence in the left-field corner.

The defensive play of the day came by Xavier left fielder Sofia Zielinski, who charged across the foul line to snag a foul ball just at the last second before coming in contact with the fence in the bottom of the fourth inning. She was not injured.

Only two Xavier runners reached as far as second base in the contest, one of them a double by Flynn in the second inning.

Downes gave credit to Basha.

“They did a good job,’’ he said. “They were simplifying their approach and putting the ball in play.’’

Xavier hitters will face another challenge in the team’s next game on Friday (March 25) when XCP travels to Ahwatukee to face Phoenix Desert Vista. The Thunder feature one of the state’s top arms in junior Jocelyn Briski, who already has committed to the University of Alabama.

“Hopefully, this will have been a good learning experience for us and we can see how we respond the next time out,’’ Downes said.


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