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.

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Extra work pays off for Xavier softball hitter

 The state tournament is not the time for a player to try to stop improving. They must continue to make an effort because one small thing or two could make the difference in their team moving on or going home until next season.

That’s what happened to Xavier Prep sophomore outfielder Sofia Zielinski in the hours leading up to the Gators’ opening-round game against Chandler Hamilton in the 6A Conference state tournament at Xavier’s Petznick Field on Saturday (April 30).

She was instrumental in Xavier scoring the tying run in the sixth inning and the winning run in the eighth as fourth-seeded Xavier recorded a 4-3 victory over the 13th-seeded Huskies.

The state tournament, now in a double-elimination format, will have Hamilton traveling to face fifth-seeded Yuma Cibola on Tuesday (May 3) and Xavier playing host in the winner’s bracket on Wednesday (May 4) against 12th-seeded Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor. Those games begin at 4 p.m.

The left-handed hitting Zielinski had been having a bit of of late trying to take pitches to the opposite field.

“I had been pulling the ball, mostly into the gap (in right-center field) but I wanted to use more of the field,’’ she said.

So she started swinging and felt more comfortable and felt ready to go.

She did not start to show results until the fourth inning, when she hit a ground-rule double that bounced over Xavier’s new outfield fence.

Time was beginning to run out on the Gators, who defeated Hamilton twice earlier in the season, including a contest at Xavier on Monday (April 25). Hamilton led 3-2 in the sixth behind a strong showing from pitcher Allison Weyandt.

The Gators’ Tabitha Von Kolen hit a one-out single and advanced to third with two out. Zielinski stepped to the plate and sent a looping fly down the left-field line that the left fielder could not reach in time to make the catch, and Von Kolen scored to tie it at 3.

The next and most decisive opportunity for Zielinski came with two out In the eighth and Meghan Schouten at first after a walk. Zielinski drilled the ball down the left-field line again and it bounced off the edge of the left fielder’s glove. The ball rolled into a dead-ball area but by that time, Schouten had hustled around second and was headed for third, and the umpires awarded her two extra bases, third and home to score the winning run.

“The ball had a tail to it,’’ Xavier coach Brad Downes said. “Meghan was running hard on the play and give her credit for that because you never know what might happen. She got past second and it earned her those extra bases.’’

Of the decisive hit, Zielinski said, “I was telling myself, “Just breathe,’ ’’ she said. “I believed in myself and I hit the ball pretty hard.’’

Zielinski finished with two doubles, senior shortstop Bridget Donahey had three doubles along with some smooth defense, and senior pitcher Riley Flynn hit an RBI triple and scored on a passed ball to get the Gators out of a 1-0 hole in the first.

Flynn raised her record to 17-3 as Xavier rose to 20-5 overall. Hamilton slipped to 17-12.

She knows many of the Hamilton players from club ball and has at least one Husky, shortstop Kate Vance, on her club team. She said she knew the team would come after her on Saturday, ready to hit.

“I tried to work inside a bit more and trust what my good pitches were,’’ Flynn said.

Downes said Weyandt pitched very well and that Flynn “was very good, kept us in the game.’’

Now a rematch looms with Sandra Day O’Connor, which fell to Xavier 7-5 on March 7 at O’Connor.

“They are always a good-hitting team, so we will have to be ready,’’ Downes said.

6A Conference state softball tournament

First round, Saturday

(Seedings in parentheses)

Phoenix Desert Vista (1) def. Gilbert Highland (16), 6-1; Mesa Mountain View (8) def. Phoenix Pinnacle (9), 4-3; Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor (12) def. Yuma Cibola (5), 8-0; Xavier Prep (4) def. Chandler Hamilton (13), 4-3 (8 innings).

Tucson High (2) def. Tolleson High (15), 9-3; Chandler Basha (7) def. Tempe Corona del Sol (10), 4-2; Mesa Red Mountain (11) def. Gilbert Perry (6), 5-2; Queen Creek (3) def. Phoenix Sunnyslope (14), 3-2.

Loser’s bracket (double elimination)

Tuesday, May 3 at sites of highest seeds

All games, 4 p.m.

Sunnyslope at Perry, Tolleson at Corona del Sol, Hamilton at Cibola, Highland at Pinnacle.

Winner’s bracket (double elimination)

Wednesday, May 4 at sites of highest seeds

Mountain View at Desert Vista, Sandra Day O’Connor at Xavier Prep, Basha at Tucson High, Red Mountain at Queen Creek.


NE Valley meet leads track & field to final stretch

 The three-day Northeast Valley Championships for track and field teams wrapped up on Friday (April 29) at Phoenix Horizon and below are Xavier finishers in final events (excluded: 3,200, pole vault, triple jump, shot put).

The Division I state meet will be held on May 7, May 11 and May 14 at Mesa Community College.

100-meter dash – Marley Stoller, Fr., 7th, 13.02; Maya Ofori, So., 8th, 13.18.

200-meter dash – Madigan Moran, Jr., 6th, 26.69; Bella Gomez, So., 11th, 27.07; Lucy Benjamin,

Fr., 13th, 27.19.

400-meter dash – Marley Stoller, Fr., 4th, 59.26; Bella Gomez, So., 7th, 1:00.41; Mia Stoller, Fr., 15th, 1:02.48.

800-meter run – Tatum Goforth, Sr., 4th, 2:18.62; Naomi Young, Jr., 8th, 2:27.46; Lily Beaver, So., 12th, 2:30.69; Reese Brown, Jr., 13th, 2:34.70.

1,600-meter run – Reese Brown, Jr., 4th, 5:21.09; Hannah Wheeling, Sr., 5:31.21; Catherine Alaimo, Sr., 5:35.97; Kylie Graf, Jr., 12th, 5:36.03.

100-meter hurdles – Annette Gbekia, So., 11th, 18.30.

300-meter hurdles – Kaira Burrage, So., 2nd, 47.63; Ellie Higgins, Sr., 13th, 52.97.

4x100-meter relay – XCP 3rd, 49.92.

4x400-meter relay – XCP 3rd, 4:01.80.

High jump – Ellie Higgins, Sr., 6th, 4-10; Illiana Kockinis, So., 4-05.

Long jump – Cierra Gonzalez, Sr., 3rd, 17-0; Riley Ward, Jr., 13th, 15-05 ½.

Discus – Elena Soderstrom, Sr., 13th, 87-08; Aymara Ubom, So., 16th, 83-07; Callie Ehmann, Jr., 21st, 77-08 ½.

Javelin – Ellie Higgins, Sr., 9th, 87-00; Riley Ward, Jr., 10th, 85-09; Callie Ehmann, Jr., 16th, 78-05; Elena Soderstrom, Sr., 29th, 71-0.

 

 

 

Xavier duo wants to put fingerprints on title trophy

 Xavier Prep’s illustrious tennis program has been fueled by strong performances in individual singles and doubles, particularly the latter.

Now the Gators have a new duo to add to the list.

Top-seeded senior Ryan Kershner and sophomore Danielle Dyer won Division I quarterfinal and semifinal matches on Saturday (April 30) at the Paseo Racquet Center in Glendale, putting them in Monday’s (May 2) championship match at 5 p.m., also at Paseo.

Kershner and Dyer defeated eighth-seeded Reese Schibel and Chae Rin Youn, 6-2, 6-1 in the quarterfinals on Saturday morning. In the afternoon, the Xavier team prevailed over Phoenix Desert Vista’s fourth-seeded Natalie Visic and Grace Rooney, 6-0, 6-1.

Analise and Tessa Wachtel, the tourney’s No. 3 seed representing an outstanding Scottsdale Desert Mountain team, will face Kershner and Dyer in the title match. The Wachtels defeated Scottsdale Chaparral’s second-seeded Brooke Berbeco and Jordyn Isaak, 2-1 (retired) in the semis.

The last state doubles triumph for Xavier was part of a three-year run by Margaret Cohen and Scarlet Rush in 2012, 2013 and 2014. The last XCP state runner-up was the team of Erica Stutz and Emily Even, in 2018.

Friday, April 29, 2022

Xavier doubles team advances to tennis quarters

 Senior Ryan Kershner and sophomore Danielle Dyer showed why they are the top-seeded doubles team in the individual portion of the Division I state tournament on Friday (April 29) with two big wins that sent them to Saturday’s (April 30) quarterfinals.

Kershner and Dyer took to the courts at the Scottsdale Ranch Park and Tennis Center and defeated Sarah Harris and Brooke Morton-Holmes of Peoria Liberty, 6-0, 6-0 to move on to the second round later on Friday.

In that second contest, Kershner and Dyer dispatched Nicole Jones and Madyson Young of Mesa Mountain View, 6-1, 6-2. That put the Xavier duo in Saturday’s 10 a.m. quarterfinals against eighth-seeded Reese Schibel and Chae Rin of Scottsdale Desert Mountain.

The winner of that match at the Paseo Racquet Center in Glendale will advance to the semifinals later on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. at Paseo. And the semifinal winners will meet for the title on Monday (May 2) at 5 p.m. at Paseo.

Xavier also was represented by a pair of singles players – sophomores Megan Wheeling and Belanie Soto.

Unfortunately, neither player made it past the opening round on Friday. Wheeling fell to Katherine Zawada-Doss of Mesa Westwood, 6-1, 6-1, and Soto suffered a 6-0, 6-0 setback to sixth-seeded Devyn Rodriguez of Chandler High.

All of this weekend’s players will rejoin the rest of their Gator teammates on Tuesday (May 3) for the team quarterfinals match against Tucson Rincon/University at XCP’s Stark Tennis Center. Start time is 3 p.m.


Thursday, April 28, 2022

Gator softball 4th, to meet old friend Hamilton

 Xavier Prep’s softball team recorded two victories, 12-0 and 8-2, over 6A Conference Premier Region rival Chandler Hamilton during the regular season.

But Hamilton, traditionally one of the most competitive teams in the state, will do everything in its power to avoid the same fate for the third time when the two teams meet on Saturday (April 30) in the first round of the state tournament at Petznick Field. First pitch is 11 a.m.

Fourth-seeded Xavier is 19-4 and No. 13 Hamilton 16-11 after it defeated 20th-seeded San Luis 10-0 in a “play-in game’’ on Wednesday (April 27).

The state tournament returns to using the double-eliminaton format it maintained for several years before going to a one-and-done format for some years after.

6A Conference 2022 state softball tournament

First round, Saturday (April 30), 11 a.m.

(Seedings in parentheses)

Gilbert Highland (16) at Phoenix Desert Vista (1), Phoenix Pinnacle (19) at Mesa Mountain View (8), Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor (12) at Yuma Cibola (5), Chandler Hamilton (13) at Xavier Prep (4), Tolleson High (5) at Tucson High (2), Tempe Corona del Sol (10) at Chandler Basha (7), Mesa Red Mountain (11) at Gilbert Perry (6), Phoenix Sunnyslope (14) at Queen Creek (3).

NE meet gives track & field good eye for state

 Wednesday’s (April 27) second day of the three-day Northeast Valley track and field championships is in the books, and Xavier again had a strong showing.

Xavier was in third place among the teams with 35 points through seven events of finals competition.

The top finishes by Xavier individuals were second places by Kaira Burrage in the 300-meter hurdles prelims and Avery Allen in the pole vault finals.

The meet continues with its final day on Friday (April 29).

Northeast Valley Championships

at Phoenix Horizon

First day, Monday, April 25

Second day, Wednesday, April 27

Third day – Friday, April 29

Xavier second day results

Team scoring through 7 events

Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor 48, Phoenix North Canyon 39, Xavier Prep 35.

100-meter hurdles prelims – Annette Gbekia, 16th, 18.75; Mia Portillo, 21st, 19.56.

100-meter prelims – Julianne Veloria, 3rd, 12.84; Marley Stoller, 8th, 12.99; Maya Ofori, 11th, 13.14; Madigan Moran, 18th, 13.42.

4x100-meter relay prelims – XCP 3rd, 49.59 (Mackenzie Lopez, Maya Ofori, Marley Stoller, Julianne Veloria).

400-meter dash prelims – Marley Stoller, 4th, 59.26; Bella Gomez, 5th, 60.19; Mia Stoller, 61.00; Lucy Benjamin, 24th, 63.81.

300-meter hurdles prelims – Kaira Burrage, 2nd, 48.13; Ellie Higgins, 12th, 52.06; Morgan Finch, 29th, 58.46.

800-meter run prelims – Tatum Goforth, 4th, 2:19.63; Reese Brown, 8th, 2:22.87; Naomi Young, 14th, 2:28.01; Lily Beaver, 18th, 2:30.65.

200-meter dash prelims – Julianne Veloria, 5th, 26.51; Bella Gomez, 7th, 26.64; Madigan Moran, 11th, 26.84.

3,200-meter run finals – Hannah Wheeling, 4th, 11:42.90; Reese Brown, 5th, 11:45.56; Nora Hinkle, 8th, 12:11.71; Kylie Graf, 17th, 12:33.34.

Pole vault finals – Avery Allen, 2nd, 11-01.

Triple jump finals – Sofia Asher, 21st, 29-11.

Shot put finals – Elena Soderstrom, 8th, 30-11; Callie Ehmann, 28th, 26-03; Lis Montoya, 35th, 24-11 ½.


Lacrosse team assures itself of winning record

 

Xavier Prep’s club lacrosse team has assured itself a winning record with one regular-season match to play after a 21-8 triumph over visiting Tucson Salpointe Catholic on Wednesday night (April 27) at Petznick Field.

Four Gators players combined to score five goals each to push the team’s record to 8-6.

They were McKenna Boyer, Keilani Hong, Gigi Riviere and Joan Walton.

Xavier plays its regular-season finale on Friday night (April 29) at 7 p.m. against the Oro Valley (Tucson) team at Naranja Park in Oro Valley.


O'Connor shows Gators how it's done, takes beach title

 The court is adjourned.

It is an interesting way to describe a high school that carries the name of a long-time Supreme Court justice from Arizona in its endeavor to win an athletic state championship.

So, top-seeded Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor let the gavel drop on No. 2 Xavier Prep to win the Division I beach volleyball title on Wednesday night (April 27) 4-1 at Casteel High in Queen Creek.

Xavier (13-2) had won eight of the previous crowns in the nine-year history of the sport, including a triumph over Sandra Day O’Connor for the trophy in 2021. Sandra Day O’Connor finished 15-1 this season.

If you look into the eyes of Sandra Day O’Connor players and those of Xavier players over the years, you can tell that they are focused to the point where just about every shot goes where it is supposed to and nearly every defensive maneuver is successful.

“That’s why a team like O’Connor is so exceptionally talented,’’ said Xavier coach Tim McHale. “Tonight, you could tell it. They made a number of adjustments. We made some, too, but they were able to make theirs work more often.’’

The fact that Sandra Day O’Connor has about eight players, including an underclassman or two, who already have committed to the Division I college level, also helps.

McHale said he doesn’t automatically assume his team will add to its title trophy collection each year, but he always thinks the Gators’ chances are good. That included this season, despite a 5-0 shutout at the hands of Sandra Day O’Connor on March 30.

“This game is played at a high, emotional level, and with that, the risk is high,’’ McHale said.

“I’m not going to lie. This hurts. Always, always. Saying that, you know things like this are going to happen sometimes.’’

For most of the season, McHale has had to endure the pitfalls of having a torn Achilles’ that required surgery. He has pushed himself along on a small cart device. It works on a smooth surface, but not so much on sand, so he has to stay in one spot during the matches and have his players come to him for instructions during timeouts, etc. All of this adds to the fatigue factor.

The Xavier players kept the tears away immediately afterward, but let the water flow later.

“I didn’t think I would cry like this,’’ one said.

The Eagles were on their game from the beginning, particularly with the 5s and 4s pairs. It was almost as if they surprised the Gators, who fell behind and could not catch up.

Sandra Day O’Connor freshman Olivia LeBlanc, already listed as one of the nation’s top players in some publications, and sophomore Piper Rama look to be No. 1 material down the road. Their win over Xavier in the No. 3 pairs mathematically clinched the match and the title, and the world stopped briefly as teammates and fans sent pink and white streamers high into the air.

The clinch occurred as the No. 2 pairs were being conducted on an adjacent court. It was the site of Xavier’s best effort of the match, and only victory, by sophomore Trinity Tran and senior Katie Anthony, 23-21 and 21-15 over Sandra Day O’Connor’s Tristin Smith and Sophia Myers.

Eagles No. 1s Margo Smith and Sydnee Broadway put a pink ribbon on the proceedings with a 21-14, 21-19 win over Xavier senior Landree Coats and junior Summer McCann.

So we will see what happens if the teams reconvene in 2023.

2022 Division I beach volleyball state championship

Wednesday, at Queen Creek Casteel

Sandra Day O’Connor 4, Xavier Prep 1

No. 1 pairs – Margo Smith-Sydnee Broadway, SDO, def. Landree Coats-Summer McCann, X, 21-14, 21-19.

No. 2 – Trinity Tran-Katie Anthony, X, def. Tristin Smith-Sophia Myers, SDO, 23-21, 21-15.

No. 3 – Olivia LeBlanc-Piper Rama, SDO, def. Noelle Peterson-Mei Tsou, X, 21-11, 21-13.

No. 4 – Liana Huesca-Sarah Lewis, SDO, def. Alexa Shiner-Tiffany Tellez, X, 21-14, 21-14.

No. 5 – Reese Holtorf-Ashlyn Rough, SDO, def. Lauren Vanderwey-Maddie MacDonald, X, 21-11, 21-16.

 

 

 

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

XCP's Kershner, Dyer top-seeded doubles team at state

 While Arizona’s prep tennis teams are taking a break in the Division I state tournament, individual singles and doubles players will line up and compete at their version of state in their respective categories.

Singles and doubles matches begin on Friday (April 29) at the Scottsdale Ranch Park, and those advancing will play across town on Saturday (April 30) at the state’s traditional tennis destination, the Paseo Racquet Center in Glendale.

Xavier features the top-seeded doubles team of senior Ryan Kershner and junior Danielle Dyer.

They will open play on Friday at 1:30 p.m. against unseeded Sarah Harris and Brooke Morton-Holmes of Peoria Liberty. The winner advances to the second round at 4:30 p.m.

Two individual singles players are entered for the Gators.

They are sophomore Megan Wheeling and Belani Soto. Wheeling opens play on Friday at noon against fifth-seeded Katherine Zawada-Das of Mesa Westwood. Soto will take on No. 6 seed Devyn Rodriguez of Chandler High. Early winners on Friday play again at 4:30 p.m.


Gators defeat improved Chandler in tennis opener

 State tournament brackets are designed to have the higher seeds play the lower ones in the opening rounds, therefore allowing the higher-ranked teams to relax a bit, at least in theory.

But sometimes that plan can collapse like a stack of cards and the opposite can happen.

Xavier Prep tennis coach Laurie Martin certainly did not want her team to get caught in an upset when the perennial powerhouse, second-seeded Gators faced visiting No. 15 Chandler High on Tuesday (April 26) in a Division I first-round match at Xavier’s Stark Tennis Center.

Xavier had defeated Chandler 7-2 earlier in the season, and Martin could see that the Wolves were showing signs of being a program on the rise. Xavier finished the regular season at 14-1 while Chandler was 10-5.

So the Gators maintained their focus and picked up a 5-0 victory. The next round will not be until May 3, due to the startup on state singles and doubles play this weekend. Xavier will host No. 10 seed Tucson Rincon/University.

“Chandler now has a quality team, and their coach (Abe Olivas) has developed a good, sound program. It’s great to see a team come back like that,’’ Martin said.

Division I state tennis

First round

Tuesday, at XCP Stark Tennis Center

Xavier Prep 5, Chandler High 0

Singles

Danielle Dyer, X, def. Hannah Truong, C; Victoria Chrostowski, X, def. Sophie Ogles, C; Julia Chrostowski, X, def. Shruthi Sadhasivam, C; Megan Wheeling, x, def. Maddie Moran, C; Belani Soto, X, def. Emily Chao, C.


Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Hard work lifts lacrosse with winning record

 Xavier Prep’s club lacrosse team worked very hard to reach this point, and now the Gators are enjoying a winning record with two regular season matches to go.

A productive 23-12 win over Scottsdale Chaparral at Scottsdale Desert Mountain put XCP over the top with a 7-6 record.

Xavier has two matches left against Tucson-area teams – Tucson Salpointe Catholic on Wednesday (April 27) at Xavier and the Oro Valley team on Friday (April 29) in Tucson. Both matches begin at 7 p.m.

The Gators are continuing to ramp up their scoring firepower.

Their top scorers are Keilani Hong (51 goals), Gigi Riviere (50), Marlee McCloskey (38), McKenna Boyer (37) and Joan Walton (32). Hong also tops in assists with 32.


Another beach title is within reach of these Gators

 The beach volleyball teams from Xavier Prep and Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor have some unfinished business out there on the table in Wednesday night’s (April 27) 6A state championship match at Casteel High in Queen Creek.

Top-seeded Sandra Day O’Connor is looking for payback after losing to the Gators 4-1 in that title match. And second-seeded Xavier wants to make up for a rare shutout (5-0) at the hands of the Eagles when they met at the Victory Lane Sports Complex in Glendale on March 30, Xavier’s only loss of the season.

Sandra Day O’Connor is 14-1, Xavier is 13-1.

Both teams won their semifinal matches on Monday night (April 25) at Casteel, Xavier 4-1 over No. 3 Mesa Mountain View and Sandra Day O’Connor 4-1 over No. 4 Tempe Corona del Sol.

“I don’t necessarily think that it’s unfinished business. We just want to find out where we’re at (in terms of being competitive) and to do that, you have to be there,’’ said Xavier coach Tim McHale.

“It was good to see our team out there playing well and just continuing to grind.’’

A lot of sand was kicked up as Xavier and Mountain View (11-2) battled it out.

Most of the games were closer than not. Highlights were the 21-19, 21-18 win by the No. 3 pair of juniors Mei Tsou and Noelle Peterson, and the victorious effort by No. 1s Summer McCann (junior) and Landree Coats (senior), 21-17, 21-19.

6A Conference beach volleyball semifinal

Monday (April 25) at Queen Creek Casteel

Xavier Prep 4, Mesa Mountain View 1

No. 1 pairs – Summer McCann-Landree Coats, X, def. Reece Fischbeck-Briley Decker, MV, 21-17, 21-19.

No. 2 – Lexi Williams-Rachel Reed, MV, def. Trinity Tran-Katie Anthony, X, 16-21, 21-16, 15-9.

No. 3 – Mei Tsou-Noelle Peterson, X, def. Jordyn Decker-Aaliyah Austin, MV, 21-19, 21-18.

No. 4 – Alexa Shiner-Tiffany Tellez, X, def. Olivia Tukuafu-Taylor Hunt, MV, 21-17, 21-17.

No. 5 – Lauren Vanderwey-Maddie MacDonald, X, def. Harley Noble-Braily Skousen, MV, 21-12, 21-13.


Softball wins finale, opens state tourney Saturday

 Xavier Prep’s softball team appears ready to defend its first-ever 6A state championship when the tournament gets under way on Saturday (April 30).

The Gators wrapped up the regular season on Monday (April 25) with an 8-2 victory over visiting Chandler Hamilton at Petznick Field.

Xavier finished the regular season with a 19-5 overall record and was one of the top eight teams in the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s power points rankings. The top eight have not yet been ranked by number.

That is expected to be sorted out at the end of the day on Thursday (April 27) after “play-in games’’ between teams seeded 9 through 24. Winners of those games will move on to the first round of the state event that begins Saturday and be the visiting teams against one of the top eight.

So that means Xavier will play at home on Saturday at 11 a.m. This year’s tournament will utilize a double-elimination format. So Saturday’s losers will play in an elimination game on Tuesday (May 3), with Saturday’s winners advancing to play on Wednesday (March 4). All of those games will be hosted by the highest seeds.

Against Hamilton, senior pitcher Riley Flynn helped her own cause with a pair of hits, including a home run. Senior infielder-outfielder Meghan Schouten also sent the ball out of the yard. And senior first baseman-pitcher Emma Peterson had three hits and drove in a run.

Flynn raised her record to 16-3 with seven strikeouts.


Win in 800 relay highlights first day of meet

 Xavier Prep’s 4x800-meter relay team came up big in Monday’s (April 25) first day of the Northeast Valley Championships at Phoenix Horizon.

Xavier was the only team to break the 10-minute mark, hitting the finish line in 9:54.24.

Xavier also competed in preliminaries in the 4x100 and the 4x400 relays.

There were finals in two field events – the long jump and the javelin.

Senior Cierra Gonzalez was the top finisher in the long jump (third) at 17 feet (even), and senior Ellie Higgins was ninth in the javelin at 87 feet (even).

Action continues on Wednesday (April 27) and Friday (April 29).

Northeast Valley Championships

at Phoenix Horizon

First day, Monday, April 25

Second day – Wednesday, April 27

Third day – Friday, April 29

Xavier results

4x100-meter relay prelims – XCP 3rd, 49.59.

4x400-meter relay prelims – XCP 5th, 4:07.18.

4x800-meter relay finals – XCP 1st, 9:54.24.

Long jump finals – Cierra Gonzalez, Sr., 3rd, 17-00; Riley Ward, Jr., 13th, 15-05 ½.

Javelin finals – Ellie Higgins, Sr., 9th, 87-0; Callie Ehmann, Jr., 16th, 78-05; Elena Soderstrom, Sr., 29th, 71-00.


Saturday, April 23, 2022

No. 2 seed XCP tennis opens against Chandler

 Tuesday (April 26) signals the start of the second state tournament for spring sports, tennis, and Xavier Prep is in the middle of all the action, as usual.

Xavier won five of 10 titles in the 2010 decade, the last in 2019.

The second-seeded Gators appear to have a good chance at another Division I title, and the biggest obstacle is expected to be top-seeded Scottsdale Desert Mountain, which handed Xavier (13-1) its only loss of the regular season, 7-2 on March 9.

In Xavier’s next match, the Gators rebounded with a 7-2 win over Chandler High and won all the rest of its matches. And Chandler will be Xavier’s opponent in the first round at XCP’s Stark Tennis Center at 3 p.m. on Tuesday. Chandler is 10-5.

The winner advances to the quarterfinal round on May 3. There is a one-week gap in the remainder of the team portion of the tournament, as the individual singles and doubles will be played beginning Friday (April 29) and running through with championships in those categories on May 2.

Xavier’s top players for coach Laurie Martin are senior RyanKershner, sophomore Danielle Dyer, senior Victoria Chrostowski, sophomore Belanie Soto and sophomore Megan Wheeling and senior Lily Gabler.

Division I team tennis first round

Tuesday, April 26

All matches, 3 p.m.

(Seedings in parentheses)

Mesa Red Mountain (16) at Scottsdale Desert Mountain (1), Tempe Corona del Sol (9) at Mesa Mountain View (8), Queen Creek Casteel (12) at Chandler Basha (5), Goodyear Millennium (13) at Scottsdale Chaparral (4), Marana High (14) at Chandler Hamilton (3), Peoria Liberty (11) at Phoenix Desert Vista (6), Tucson Rincon/University (10) at Gilbert Perry (7), Chandler High (15) at Xavier Prep (2).


Friday, April 22, 2022

No fizzle, just plenty of sizzle for Gator softball

 Maybe the grill skill was the thrill, sending wave after wave of mouth-watering smoke into the air behind the bleachers, as the Xavier Prep Dads Club dished out the dogs and other goodies.

Maybe it was the contributions of the softball team’s five seniors, honored on this pleasant evening.

Maybe it was the dozens of blue-clad Gator fans who motivated the team with their energy like they have all season.

Or maybe it was all of the above, as Xavier took care of visiting Phoenix Sunnyslope, 10-0, in a rare night game on Thursday (April 21)  that was shortened to six innings at Petznick Field.

The Gators are now 18-5 and fourth on the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s 6A Conference power points list entering their final regular-season game against Chandler Hamilton on Monday (April 25) at Petznick. Sunnyslope slipped to 26-3 after losing its second in a row.

“We love playing at night,’’ said Xavier coach Brad Downes. “We’ve had a lot of good success at night over the years. We have a beautiful field, and it’s even more so at night.

“We had a lot of good production throughout the lineup, especially the seniors.

“And it was another great outing by Riley (Flynn).’’

Flynn is 15-3 with 171 strikeouts in 113 2/3 innings. At the plate, she had a hit and drove in a run.

The other seniors are shortstop Bridget Donahey, first baseman-pitcher Emma Peterson, outfielder Elliot Smith and outfielder-infielder Meghan Schouten.

Schouten and Peterson had two hits, with both driving in two runs. Donahey had one hit, a booming triple, and drove in a run. Smith had a hit.

Xavier made it official in the bottom of the sixth when sophomore infielder Lauren Putz, who plays like a senior, was issued a bases-loaded walk. She also had three hits.


Thursday, April 21, 2022

Softball aims for big regular-season finish

 Xavier Prep’s softball team set itself up with what it hopes will be strong efforts in the final two games of the regular season, both at home, with a big 13-1 victory on the road at Gilbert Perry on Wednesday (April 20).

The game was scoreless for the first three innings and then the Gators went on to finish with a flourish, scoring five runs in the sixth and seventh innings.

Xavier (17-5) collected 16 hits against Perry (20-6), including three hits each from Sofia Zielinski, Bridget Donahey and Elliot Smith. Zielinski and Donahey each had three RBIs, and Donahey also had a home run. Lauren Putz also hit a homer for Xavier.

Pitcher Riley Flynn scattered six hits, walked two and struck out eight to earn the victory. She also drove in two runs with a pair of hits.

Xavier will have home games on Thursday (April 21) against Phoenix Sunnyslope and Monday (April 25) against Chandler Hamilton. Xavier’s graduating senior players will be honored on Senior Night against Sunnyslope. First pitch is 6 p.m.


It didn't seem like it, but Gators had to grind it out

 Xavier Prep beach volleyball coach Tim McHale likes to say that his team plays “side-out, grind-it-out volleyball.’’

The approach has served the Gators well in the past, leading to eight state championships in nine attempts, and continues to do so.

Whether a ninth title is in the cards remains to be seen, but the second-seeded Gators needed to maintain their focus across the board in a quarterfinal match against 10th-seeded Chandler Basha at XCP’s Petznick Field on Wednesday (April 20).

Xavier won the contest 5-0, but the score seemed much closer, like it could make a U-Turn at any moment.

Two of the three pairs matches went to three games, including the No. 1’s after the match already had been decided. The No. 3’s also went to three games, and No. 2 and No. 5 were on the verge of doing so.

“It was what we expected,’’ McHale said. “That’s the way it always seems against Basha. We have a lot of respect for their program. The 5-0 win was not an indication of how they continue to play against us.’’

Xavier (11-1) advanced to the Division I semifinals on Monday (April 25) against third-seeded Mesa Mountain View (11-1), which moved on with a 3-2 win over sixth-seeded Gilbert High. In the other semi, top-seeded Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor (11-1) faces No. 4 Tempe Corona del Sol (10-2).

Both semifinal matches will be played at Casteel High in Queen Creek (Power and Riggs roads) and will begin at 7 p.m. Semifinal winners will meet for the championship on Wednesday (April 27) at Casteel.

In the No. 5 pairs on Wednesday, Xavier’s Maddie MacDonald and Lauren Vanderwey got off to a good start for a smooth 21-6 win. Xavier held on for a 22-20 win in the second game. MacDonald looked strong at the net and scored the match-winner with a shot into one of the back corners.

In the No. 4 pairs, Basha self-destructed a bit early on with some off-target (primarily long) serves as Xavier’s Tiffany Tellez and Alexa Shiner prevailed. Tellez provided a key block to give XCP an 18-9 lead in Game 2.

Perhaps the match of the day was the No 3 pairs. Xavier won the first game 23-21 and Basha took the second 21-13 before Xavier won the third 15-10.

The Gators’ Noelle Peterson had a few key blocks and kills, and teammate Mei Tsou had what might have been considered the play of the day as Xavier was attempting to hold on in the third game. She hit a return shot that landed on top of the net and the ball began to roll . . . and roll . . . and roll. Finally, and triumphantly, it dropped to the sand on the Basha side.

After winning their first game, Xavier’s No. 4 pair of Katie Anthony and Trinity Tran found themselves trailing by about five points going down the stretch of Game 2. Somehow, they managed to regain their balance for a 21-19 win.

In the No. 1 pairs, Xavier won the first game 21-16 followed by a Basha rally that resulted in a 21-19 win. The Gators’ Summer McCann and Landree Coats won Game 3, 17-15.

Beach volleyball quarterfinal

Wednesday, @ Xavier Prep

Xavier Prep 5, Chandler Basha 0

No. 1 pairs – Landree Coats-Summer McCann, X, def. Madison Carrington-Meghan O’Meara, B, 21-16, 19-21, 17-15.

No. 2 – Katie Anthony-Trinity Tran, X, def. Macey Camacho-Chloe Murakami, B, 21-14, 21-19.

No. 3 – Noelle Peterson-Mei Tsou, X, def. Brinkley Graham-Rea Workman, B, 23-21, 13-21, 15-10.

No. 4 – Tiffany Tellez-Alexa Shiner, X, def. Madison Royer-Mia Theisler, B, 21-14, 21-9.

No. 5 – Maddie MacDonald-Lauren Vanderwey, X, def. Emma Nifill-Brianna Porter, B, 21-6, 22-20.


Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Chandler cuts into big deficit, but Gators hold on

 It had been one short week for Xavier Prep’s softball team, one that seemed much longer if you had been in the opposing dugout for Chandler High after Xavier’s scorched earth campaign produced a 21-0 victory.

The Gators again reached double figures in the team’s “rematch’’ on Tuesday (April 19), but the game seemed to have a different vibe.

Xavier had a 10-0 lead after the third inning and appeared headed for a repeat of the 10-run rule that ends the game after five innings.

But Chandler scored twice in the fourth inning and four more times in the fifth to pull much closer at 10-6. Xavier then scored three more runs in the sixth and posted a 13-6 win.

Xavier raised its record to 16-5 entering Wednesday’s (April 20) game at Gilbert Perry. Xavier defeated Perry (20-5) 13-3 on March 29.

With the Perry game coming up and another game against Phoenix Sunnyslope on Thursday (April 21) for Senior Night, Xavier coach Brad Downes elected to rest his starting ace pitcher, Riley Flynn, at least for the first five innings.

Emma Peterson took the circle for the Gators and was all right early, then began to show a bit of fatigue as Chandler (12-14-1) got its four runs in the fifth, including a three-run home run by Cian Noli.

Downes brought Flynn in to eliminate any chances the Wolves might have over the final two innings, and she did just that, giving up a pair of hits and striking out four.

Freshman catcher Riley McKeever had three hits and three RBIs for the Gators and senior shortstop Bridget Donahey had three hits and two RBIs. Flynn, a senior, and senior Meghan Schouten, each brought home two runners.


Tuesday, April 19, 2022

XCP beach players focused on the top prize

 Beach volleyball’s second season, the Division I state tournament, has begun.

Xavier Prep’s Gators follow a tradition and do certain things before a match to help get them motivated.

But not too motivated. Xavier coach Tim McHale told his players that it is a fine line, that they should not lose sight of the task at hand.

McHale’s choice of words had an impact. The second-seeded defending champion Gators did the work they came to do, and the result was an impressive 5-0 victory over No. 15 Phoenix Arcadia on Monday (April 18) at Xavier’s Cavanaugh Courts.

Xavier (11-1) moves on to the quarterfinals on Wednesday (April 20) against No. 10 Chandler Basha (9-3), its rival from the Premier Region. The contest, also at Cavanaugh Courts, begins at 4:30 p.m.

The Gators defeated Basha 4-1 at Queen Creek Casteel on April 6 and McHale said Basha was a bit banged up that day, “so we expect them to be ready to play.’’

The  top efforts for Xavier against Arcadia (8-4) came in the No. 3 slot, with juniors Noelle Peterson and Mei Tsou.

They had a relatively smooth 21-14 victory in their first game against Arcadia’s Maddy Malatesta and Ryan Sheedy, but trailed by about five points in the second game. A win by the Titans would have sent the battle to a third game.

Peterson and Tsou dug deep and were able to pull out a 21-19 win.

And Xavier’s No. 1 pairing of senior Landree Coats and junior Summer McCann appears to be hitting its stride. They scored a 21-8, 21-10 victory over Arcadia’s Ally Bolden and Leslie Bugg.

McCann has been involved in the college recruiting process, but has elected to follow the path taken by many athletes in recent years by making their commitment early to eliminate most of the pressure that comes with it.

So McCann will be headed to Boise State after graduating in 2023. The Idaho school has had a strong football program, but its women’s athletic teams are improving, making it a desired destination. Xavier senior tennis player Ryan Kershner will go to Boise State starting in the fall.

Beach volleyball

Division I first-round state results

Xavier Prep 5, Arcadia 0

Monday, @ XCP Cavanaugh Courts

No. 1 pairs – Landree Coats-Summer McCann, X, def. Ally Bolden-Leslie Bugg, A, 21-8, 21-10.

No. 2 – Katie Anthony-Trinity Tran, X, def. Andrea Firman-Rylie Sieben, A, 21-10, 21-14.

No. 3 – Noelle Peterson-Mei Tsou, X, def. Maddy Malatesta-Ryan Sheedy, A, 21-14, 21-19.

No. 4 – Tiffany Tellez-Alexa Shiner, X, def. Ayvery Fouts-Kennedy Johnson, A, 21-11, 21-8.

No. 5 – Maddie MacDonald-Lauren Vanderwey, X, def. Ella Canada-Katie Musselman, A, 21-7, 21-11.

First round results

(Seedings in parentheses)

Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor (1) 5, Waddell Canyon View (16) 0; Gilbert Perry (8) 4, Surprise Valley Vista (9) 1; Goodyear Millennium (5) 4, Mesa Desert Ridge (12) 1; Tempe Corona del Sol (4) 5, Phoenix Sunnyslope (13) 1; Mesa Mountain View (3) 5, Scottsdale Desert Mountain (14) 0; Gilbert High (6), Oro Valley (Tucson) Ironwood Ridge (11) 0; Chandler Basha (10) 3, Phoenix Desert Vista (7) 2; Xavier Prep (2) 5, Phoenix Arcadia (15) 0.

Quarterfinals schedule

All matches, Wednesday, 4:30 p.m.

Gilbert Perry @ Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor, Goodyear Millennium @ Tempe Corona del Sol, Gibert High @ Mesa Mountain View, Chandler Basha @ Xavier Prep.


Friday, April 15, 2022

Beach No. 2 seed at state, opens vs. Arcadia

 The 2022 Division I state volleyball tournament brackets have been released by the Arizona Interscholastic Association, and defending champion Xavier Prep will be the No. 2 seed, opening play on Monday (April 18) at the Cavanaugh Courts against No. 15 Phoenix Arcadia at 4:30 p.m.

Xavier finished the regular season at 10-1, its only loss coming against eventual top seed Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor, 5-0, on March 30.

If Xavier defeats Arcadia (the loser will be eliminated), the Gators would host a quarterfinal match on Wednesday (April 20) at Cavanaugh Courts at 4:30 p.m. against the winner of Monday’s first-round match between No. 10 seed Chandler Basha and No. 7 Phoenix Desert Vista. Xavier defeated both teams, 4-1.

2022 Division I beach volleyball state bracket

(Seedings in parentheses)

First round

(Monday, April 18, 4:30 p.m.)

Waddell Canyon View (16) at Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor (1), Surprise Valley Vista (9) at Gilbert Perry (8), Mesa Desert Ridge (12) at Goodyear Millennium (5), Phoenix Sunnyslope (13) at Tempe Corona del Sol (4), Oro Valley (Tucson) Ironwood Ridge (11) at Gilbert High (6), Chandler Basha (10) at Phoenix Desert Vista (7), Phoenix Arcadia (15) at Xavier Prep (2).

Quarterfinals

(Wednesday, April 20, 4:30 p.m.)

At sites of highest seeds

Semifinals

(Monday, April 25, 7 p.m.)

At Queen Creek Casteel

Finals

(Wednesday, April 27, 6 p.m.)

At Queen Creek Casteel


Younger track & field athletes shine in Fr. Olivier

 Xavier Prep’s freshman and sophomore track and field athletes had a strong effort in the Fr. Olivier Friendship Invitational at the Brophy Sports Campus on Wednesday (April 13).

Xavier finished No. 1 in the freshman-sophomore team race with 119 points, followed by Waddell Canyon View at 101.

The Gators also had some event winners among freshmen and sophomores  – sophomore Bella Gomez (200-meter dash), freshman Marley Stoller (400-meter dash) 4x800-meter relay (Jimena Gutierrez, Julia Russo, Sophie Corona, Lily Bourque).

Xavier’s upperclassmen (mainly seniors and juniors) also competed in numerous events, and the team had a handful of participants in various heptathlon events.

In that Open division, Xavier won the 4x100-meter relay with Cierra Gonzalez, Marley Stoller, Julianne Veloria and Madigan Moran. The Gators also crossed the finish line first in the Open 4x400-meter relay with Julianne Veloria, Mia Stoller, Marley Stoller and Bella Gomez.

Seniors Cierra Gonzalez and Ellie Higgins were fourth and sixth, respectively, in the heptathlon, and sophomore Illiana Kockinis was 11th.

Xavier returns to meet action on April 25, 27 and 29 with the annual Northeast Valley region event at Phoenix Horizon.

Xavier freshman-sophomore results

@ Brophy Sports Campus

Frosh-soph 100-meter dash – Marley Stoller, Fr., 2nd, 12.90; Maya Ofori, So., 5th, 13.11; Mia Stoller, Fr., 6th, 13.24.

Frosh-soph 200-meter dash – Bella Gomez, So., 1st, 26.34; Lucy Benjamin, Fr., 4th, 27.10; Maya Ofori, So., 27.67.

Frosh-soph 400-meter dash – Marley Stoller, Fr., 1st, 59.64; Bella Gomez, So., 3rd, 1:01.24; Mia Stoller, Fr., 4th, 1:02.02.

Frosh-soph 800-meter run – Julia Russo, So., 5th, 2:38.61; Jimena Gutierrez, So., 8th, 2:41.74.

Frosh-soph 1,600-meter run – Maggie Mostoller, Fr., 4th, 5:57.37; Caroline Vietor, Fr., 7th, 6:03.61; Karina Zavieri, Fr., 16th, 6:30.67; Susan Findlay, So., 19th, 6:35.84.

Frosh-soph 3,200-meter run – Sofia Maroufkani, So., 3rd, 13:48.77; Ellie Hilsabeck, Fr., 4th, 13:53.56.

Frosh-soph 100-meter hurdles – Annette Gbekia, So., 3rd, 18.68.

Frosh-soph 300-meter hurdles – Kaira Burrage, So., 2nd, 50.07.

Frosh-soph  4x400-meter relay – Xavier 2nd, 4:19.32 (Vivian Amoia, Lily Beaver, Lucy Benjamin, Kaira Burrage).

Frosh-soph 4x800-meter relay – Xavier 1st, 10:45.26 (Jimena Gutierrez, Julia Russo, Sophia Corona, Lily Bourque).

Frosh-soph shot put – Lis Montoya, So., 7th, 25-03 ½.

Frosh-soph long jump – Vivian Amoia, Fr., 3rd, 15-10; Gabriella Isaac, Fr., 7th, 14-03.

Team scores

Xavier Prep 119, Waddell Canyon View 101, Phoenix Desert Vista 80, Phoenix Mountain Pointe 63, Tempe Corona del Sol 62, Gilbert Williams Field 51, Queen Creek 47, Tucson Sabino 35, Tempe McClintock 35, Surprise Shadow Ridge 25, Cottonwood Mingus 8, Phoenix Barry Goldwater 8, Phoenix St. Mary’s 8, Coolidge High 6.

Xavier Open results (upperclassmen)

100-meter dash – Julianne Veloria, Jr., 2nd, 12.67; Madigan Moran, Jr., 7th, 13.25.

200-meter dash – Julianne Veloria, Jr., 2nd, 26.45; Madigan Moran, Jr., 3rd, 26.95.

400-meter dash – Vivian Amoia, Jr., 6th, 1:03.02; Lucy Benjamin, Fr., 7th, 1:03.03.

800-meter run – Kylie Graf, So., 5th, 2:31.06; Naomi Young, Jr., 6th, 2:31.13.

1,600-meter run – Alma Melendez, Jr., 6th, 5:58.04; Emily Manuelito, Jr., 7th, 6:05.60; Maya Nagaraj, So., 13th, 6:38.09.

3,200-meter run – Nora Hinkle, Jr., 2nd, 11:59.49; Alma Melendez, Jr., 9th, 13:30.14.

100-meter hurdles – Annette Gbekia, So., 3rd, 18.68.

300-meter hurdles – Morgan Finch, Jr., 10th, 53.69; Mia Portillo, Sr., 12th, 54.91.

4x400-meter relay – Xavier 1st, 4:07.10 (Julianne Veloria, Mia Stoller, Marley Stoller, Bella Gomez).

4x800-meter relay – Xavier 5th, 11:40.69 (Elle Houle, Adelaide Luna, Blakely Anderson, Zoe Lopez.

Shot put – Elena Soderstrom, Sr., 2nd, 31-10 ½; Callie Ehmann, Jr., 11th, 25-02 ½.

Discus – Elena Soderstrom, Sr., 3rd, 95-06; Lis Montoya, So., 8th, 74-05.

Long jump – Riley Ward, Jr., 3rd, 16-00.

Heptathlon

Cierra Gonzalez, Sr., 4th, 2,457 points; Ellie Higgins, Sr., 6th, 2,046; Illiana Kockinis, So., 11th, 1,654.

 

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Loss lengthens softball trip to Tucson

 Tuesday’s (April 12) long trip to Tucson was made even longer for softball players from Xavier Prep when they realized they had gone from a scoring feast on Monday (April 11) to a comparative famine in a game against host Tucson High.

Xavier, which had rocked host Chandler 21-0 in five innings, fell to Tucson 5-3. Xavier is now 15-5 while Tucson is 19-3-1.

The contest against Tucson was scoreless through three innings, but the Badgers scored a run in the fourth, two in the fifth and two in the sixth. Xavier scored once in the fifth and twice in the seventh.

Sophomore Lauren Putz was the leader on offense with two hits and two RBIs, including a home run. Pitcher Riley Flynn had a pair of hits for the Gators.

Flynn gave up five runs on seven hits with a walk and seven strikeouts.

Xavier will play Chandler again on Tuesday (April 19), this time at Petznick Field.


Xavier tennis scores important win over Hamilton

 Just like the wind that swirled through the courts at Xavier Prep’s Stark Tennis Center on Tuesday (April 12), the direction of an individual match or overall team match can change before you know it.

The good thing, according to Xavier coach Laurie Martin, “the wind can work for and against both sides,’’ so no team gets a real advantage..

Things came full circle on Tuesday, when Xavier met Hamilton in a rematch of last season's semifinals won by Hamilton. In the regular-season finale for both schools, both teams came in with 12-1 records, having lost to only Scottsdale Desert Mountain, the defending state champion and winner of three of the last four titles.

It was Senior Day for the Gators and the afternoon carried a state-tournament feel.

The teams battled back and forth, splitting the six singles matches, and the Gators took over in doubles, winning all three for a 6-3 victory.

“Finally, we have pretty good health,’’ Martin said.

The team portion of the state tournament begins April 26, which will give the Gators time (including Spring Break) to get ready. Individual singles and doubles get going on April 29.

“We’ve had a good season,’’ Martin said. “We have been able to develop some depth, and our players have become close with each other.’’

Ryan Kershner has had a strong senior season.

Against Hamilton on Tuesday, Kershner played some of her best tennis of the season. She was aggressive, charged the ball on short returns, worked the baseline well and seemed consistent with her serves. She defeated the Huskies’ No. 1, Shivika Agrawal, 6-1, 6-2, and teamed with Danielle Dyer to defeat Agrawal and Esther Qiu 8-3 in doubles.

Some of the younger players had some nervous moments in the early season, but since have left that at a minimum.

Martin said that sophomores Belanie Soto and Meghan Wheeling “have been really able to get into their form,’’ and freshman Julia Chrostowski is on the way to become a reliable player.

Tuesday’s result

Xavier Prep 6, Chandler Hamilton 3

@ Xavier’s Stark Tennis Center

Singles

Ryan Kershner, X, def. Shivika Agrawal, H, 6-1, 6-2; Danielle Dyer, X, def. Esther Qiu, H, 6-3, 6-2; Olivia Stephens, H, def. Victoria Chrostowski, X, 6-3, 7-5; Mikaela Correa, H, def. Julia Chrostowski, X, 6-4, 6-4; Angelina Roehl, H, def. Meghan Wheeling, X, 6-2, 6-2; Belanie Soto, X, def. Aarya Patel, H, 6-1, 6-1.

Doubles

Kershner-Dyer, X, def. Agrawal-Qiu, H, 8-3; Soto-V. Chrostowski, X, def. Stephens- Correa, H, 8-6; Wheeling-Kristina Stender, X, def. Roehl-Patel, H, 8-3.


Beach finishes season 10-1, state starts April 18

 Xavier Prep’s beach volleyball team wrapped up its regular season with a 5-0 victory over Chandler High on Tuesday (April 11) at Casteel High in Queen Creek.

Xavier, which posted a 10-1 record during the year, now will turn its attention to the start of the Division I state tournament on April 18. The Gators are expected to have a home match with a high seeding, and with a win would host a quarterfinal match on April 20. Those matches begin at 4:30 p.m.

Semifinals and championship match will be April 25 and 27 at Casteel.

Tuesday's result

Xavier Prep 5, Chandler High 0

@ Queen Creek Casteel

No. 1 pair -- Landree Coats-Summer McCann, X, def. Kady Moore-Sophia Keeney, C, 21-9, 21-9.

No. 2 -- Trinity Tran-Katie Anthony, X, def. Shyann Shell-Piper Kvanvig, C, 21-16, 21-9.

No. 3 -- Noelle Peterson-Mei Tsou, X, def. Amanda Mitan-Alyssa Winfield, C, 21-11, 21-16.

No. 4 -- Alexa Shiner-Tiffany Tellez, X, def. Vanessa Wilson-Emily Phan, C, 21-10, 21-12.

No. 5 -- Dina Gorman-Emma Soderstrom, X, def. Kiera Truong-Allison Schmidt, C, 21-10, 21-14.


Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Gators need to open softball runs savings account

 Xavier Prep’s softball team has put together some big scoring outbursts of late, but it might deposit some of those opportunities in a run-scoring savings account, similar to a bank savings account.

If there were such a softball account, the team could have a few extra runs on hand, say, in the 6A Conference state tournament.

The Gators had plenty of runs to spare on Monday (April 11), when they rolled up a 21-count in a 21-0, 5-inning victory over host Chandler High, a game that was (mercifully) cut short due to the 10-run rule.

The Gators had a 9-0 run entering the fifth, then opened the floodgates in the fifth with 12 runs.

Xavier (15-4) slugged a pair of home runs (by seniors Bridget Donahey and Emma Petersen), and senior pitcher Riley Flynn did not allow a hit, walking two and striking out nine. Chandler dropped to 11-12-1.

The Gators quickly hit the road on Tuesday (April 12) for a trip to play Tucson High. Xavier was listed fourth in the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s power points rankings and Tucson was right behind at No. 5.


Sunday, April 10, 2022

Distance events in Scottsdale, pole vault in Cali.

 Xavier Prep track and field athletes competed in meets in Arizona and California over the weekend.

The local event was the Scottsdale Distance Classic at Scottsdale Saguaro, and the California event was in Arcadia.

The Xavier athletes will join each other on Wednesday (April 13) and Thursday (April 14) at the annual Fr. Olivier Multis at the Brophy Sports Campus. Freshmen and sophomores are due to compete on Thursday and the rest on Friday.

Here are the most recent Xavier results . . .

Scottsdale Distance Classic

Friday, April 8

@ Scottsdale Saguaro

800-meter run – Tatum Goforth, Sr., 3rd, 2:19.99; Naomi Young, Jr., 13th, 2:28.01; Reese Brown, Jr., 14th, 2:28.50; Lily Beaver, So., 18th, 2:29.72.

1,600-meter run – Hannah Wheeling, Sr., 8th, 5:23.44; Maggie Mostoller, Fr., 29th, 5:57.09; Alma Melendez, Jr., 35th, 6:02.36.

3,200-meter run – Kylie Graf, Jr., 9th, 12:25.47; Caroline Vietor, Fr., 19th, 13:23.75; Ellie Hilsabeck, Fr., 32nd, 14:07.37.

4x800-meter relay – Xavier “A”, 6th, 11:11.09 (Jimena Gutierrez, So.; Julia Russo, So.; Lily Bourque, Fr.; Ellie Hilsabeck, Fr.)

Distance medley – Xavier “A”, 7th, 14:03.04 (Catherine Alaimo, Sr.; Julianne Veloria, Jr.; Reese Brown, Jr.; Tatum Goforth, Sr.)

Arcadia Invitational

Friday-Saturday April 8-9

@ Arcadia, Calif.

Women’s pole vault Open – Avery Allen, Sr., 11-07.


Saturday, April 9, 2022

Teammates' voices motivate Xavier softball freshman

Some of the more interesting sidelights about the game of high school softball are the cheers that the players scream/chirp from their dugout. Some of them can get pretty inventive when they call out to teammates.

Xavier Prep’s Gators have done some but not a whole lot of that along the way, but this season they have turned up the volume a bit.

A popular occurrence comes when one of the newest players steps up to the plate and her teammates start to fill the air by reaching down below and using their deepest voices to say . . .

“Keeves! Keeves!’’

It is an emotional greeting for the latest Baby Gator, and she is growing up fast on the road to respectability.


It has not taken very long for freshman catcher Riley McKeever to become a popular player for Xavier's Gators (Photo by Don Ketchum).

Meet Riley McKeever, a small-but-tough catcher who adds punch with her left-handed swing that sends numerous line drives to the gaps and seems to be improving by the minute.

Riley stands just 5 feet tall, about a foot shorter than her predecessor, Macy Lee, who hit a grand slam in a performance that handed Xavier its first 6A Conference state championship last season. For a brief time, Riley said, the two were connected by the same catching coach. Lee now is at Michigan State.

Riley wheels a rolling equipment bag near the dugout for practice. It nearly is tall as she.

A reporter scribbles notes and mentions to McKeever that it appears she has a great deal of confidence. You can’t be successful at her position without it.

“Macy was a great player, but I felt I would be capable of fitting into that spot,’’ said McKeever, who also has played second base in club ball.

She admits she would like to be taller, but doesn’t appear to be worried about it. Yes, she is at 5 feet – still – but hasn’t really looked at the numbers on a daily basis.

“I haven’t checked in awhile,’’ she said.

And that statement came with a bit of a warning.

“Don’t overlook me because I’m short,’’ she said.

Xavier has three Rileys – McKeever, senior pitcher Riley Flynn and another freshman, outfielder Rylee Matthews.

Flynn has developed into one of the top pitchers in the state, and both she and McKeever feel comfortable working with each other.

“Riley said she trusts (McKeever) receiving the ball,’’ said Xavier head coach Brad Downes. “Riley’s ball moves a lot and she (McKeever) is getting used to it.’’

McKeever said she feels like she has handled the curveball and the screwball pretty well, and getting used to the rise ball is a work in progress.

And the catcher has become more vocal in her time on the field, Downes says.

When she swings the bat, she just hopes there are runners on base so she gets a chance to drive a few of them in. It doesn’t have to be a home run.

In her first 18 games, she was hitting .364 with 16 hits, including four doubles and a triple, and 9 RBIs. Because of her size, she said opponents think she is primarily a slap hitter.

“If you can bring a few more people home, that takes a lot of the pressure off the team,’’ she said.

Perhaps that is one of the reasons why her teammates – seniors, juniors, sophomores, it doesn’t matter – call out to her when it comes time for her to bat. Everybody is on the same page, has the same voice.

 “That is a confidence booster,’’ McKeever said. “That’s the best way for me to explain it.’’

Downes said it would be “cool’’ if the Xavier fans also could adopt the Gator players’ greeting for McKeever.

“You know, “Keeves . . . Keeves,’ ’’ he said.

There will be plenty of time to learn the drill – six more games this season followed by three more years after this. You never know what she will be capable of doing.


Friday, April 8, 2022

The real Gators stand up to pitch and hit the ball

 After being dominated 10-0 at Chandler Basha on March 22, Xavier Prep’s Gators figured it was time for them to turn things around when the two teams met again at Petznick Field on Thursday (April 7).

They accomplished their objective in impressive fashion, riding a four-hit, 14-strikeout pitching performance by senior Riley Flynn and getting two-run home runs from seniors Emma Petersen and Bridget Donahey for a 5-0 victory.

Xavier climbed to 14-4 while Basha slipped to 13-7.

In the teams’ first meeting, pretty much everything that Xavier tried went nowhere.

This time was much different.

“We were able to make adjustments in the middle of our at-bats, which doesn’t always work,’’ said Xavier coach Brad Downes. “You can wait for “your pitch,’ and you can also try to go (hit) where the ball is pitched, sometimes to the opposite field. That’s what we were doing.’’

The Gators got six hits against pitcher Natalie Fritz, who shut them out the first time. There there were the two that left the yard along with an RBI triple by sophomore Lauren Putz.

Petersen’s shot went to right-center field and caused one of the outfielders to knock part of the portable fence over in the bottom of the fourth inning.

Donahey did not have to worry about whether the ball might be caught. It was clear that she could wave bye-bye on the first pitch she saw that went sailing over the fence in center. Putz, who had hit her run-scoring triple just before, scored ahead of Donahey as the score went to 5-0.

Downes said that Flynn’s pitches had much more life to them than the first outing.

“She hit her spots well and the ball also was moving, jumping up and down and from side to side,’’ he said.

The Gators play two of their next three games against 6A Premier Region rival Chandler High, with a game against Tucson High in between. The first Chandler contest is on Monday (April 11) at Chandler, and the trip to Tucson will be the next day, on Tuesday (April 12). Chandler also will face Xavier at Petznick on April 19.