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, 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.

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