The Xavier Prep softball team was a juggernaut this season, running up a 19-2 record. But it appeared that Hamilton High School might have a chance of derailing the runaway express in the playoffs.
After all, Hamilton accounted for both of Xavier’s losses and were the No. 2 seed in the state tournament, right behind the top-seeded Gators.
But Hamilton stumbled in the 6A quarterfinals, getting shut out 7-0 by Red Mountain HS, which was on its way to the title game and a meeting with Xavier in the championship game.
However, Red Mountain, which lost to Xavier 4-0 in early May, was soon reminded of just how difficult it was to deal with the Gators’ pitching and power at the plate. It took just five innings for the Gators, who have 32 home runs on the season, to pile up the 10 runs needed to close out the win.
The Gators’ 10-0 victory in the title game was just a continuation of what the central Phoenix school had been doing throughout the tourney. Xavier collected 40 runs, while holding opponents to just three runs, including a shutout of No. 4 Pinnacle HS.
Xavier’s junior ace, Riley Flynn, has been the workhorse in the circle all season, compiling a 16-2 record. And she closed out a memorable season by leading the way through the state tournament and handcuffing Red Mountain’s hitters in the final game, striking out nine and allowing just one hit.
Leading the offensive assault was Xavier’s veteran catcher, Macy Lee. The senior went 3-for-4 at the plate and drove in seven runs with a grand slam home run and a couple of two-baggers.
It would surprise most high school sports fans to learn that this is Xavier’s first softball state championship in school history. The all-girls Catholic school has been so dominant in other sports like golf, cross country, swimming, and, most recently, beach volleyball, it was natural to assume they had collected a few softball crowns as well.
But this is a new adventure for the Gators, one that may be the start of something bigger.