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 13, 2022

Gators to meet Hamilton in final softball challenge

 Xavier Prep’s softball team knows Chandler Hamilton about as well as anyone possibly can, and vice versa, after having played three times during the season.

So, hey, let’s get to it.

The fourth chapter will unfold on Saturday night (April 14) at 8 p.m. at Arizona State’s Farrington Stadium in the 6A Conference state championship game. Fourth-seeded Xavier (23-5) won all three, by 12-0, 8-2 and 4-3 scores, the last going eight innings in the first round of the state tournament on April 30. Hamilton (23-12) is seeded No. 13.

Xavier won the first state title in the school’s history last season, over Mesa Red Mountain. Hamilton won back-to-back crowns in 2016 and 2017.

Xavier has won eight straight games, while Hamilton is 5-0 since that first-round setback to the Gators.

Xavier’s top two players are seniors, pitcher Riley Flynn and shortstop Bridget Donahey.

Flynn earned her 20th win of the season in an 8-6 semifinal win over Queen Creek on Wednesday (May 11). She also has four home runs with 25 hits and 22 RBIs.

She was named this week as the’s Sports Athlete of the Week for May 12 after her efforts in the circle during the tournament. She is graduating on Saturday and will go to Harvard starting this fall.

Donahey responded with a key hit against Queen Creek, a two-run home run that highlighted a three-run Xavier rally in the bottom of the sixth inning. She has 14 homers and 46 RBIS and 27 extra-base hits. Donahey also will graduate Saturday and will attend Northwestern.

Hamilton has two pitchers who can get the job done – senior Allison Weyandt and junior Sophia Tassinari. And sophomore infielder Kate Vance is the team’s top hitter with 16 homers and 39 RBIs.

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