Hard to believe, but Xavier hadn't won a softball crown until Monday

May 18, 2021 by Jose Garcia, AZPreps365

Xavier ended its season as the No. 1 softball team in the 6A Conference for the first time. azpreps365 photo.

There was no softball blueprint for winning a title for the Xavier Gators.

So the 2021 team drew up its own plans while hammering its way to its first softball crown.

Xavier outscored its four 6A Conference state tournament opponents 40-3. In its final game of the season, the Gators smashed Red Mountain 10-0 in five innings at Hillenbrand Stadium.

It’s hard to believe this since Xavier has its owns wing for its championship hardware collection, but it had never appeared in a softball championship game until Monday. The Gators sure didn’t play like the new kids on the block during their 10-hit outburst against a program making its 8th championship trip.

Meghan Schouten did the honors of ending the game early with an RBI sacrifice fly to bring in Bridget Donahey from third during Xavier’s four run fourth inning. Xavier was 4-17-2 in 2017 before coach Bradley Downes stepped in to get things in order.

Downes, a lawyer, kindly objected to the notion that he had something to do with Monday’s finish.

“It’s a credit to their talent,” Downes said. “It’s not necessarily about me at all. They built a culture where they want to play for each other, and they have. That’s why I say it’s player controlled. It’s been awesome.”

Speaking of awesome, Xavier’s two leaders, senior catcher Macy Lee and junior pitcher Riley Flynn, were at it again.

Lee, the team’s No. 3 hitter, drove in seven runs and went 3-for-4 with a grand slam and two doubles. Xavier hit 32 homers this season.

Flynn (16-2) struck out nine batters, pushing her season total to 178 strikeouts in 108 innings, and allowed just one hit.

“I was just trying to hit it hard and see if I can get a deep sacrifice fly, so it was great that it went out,” said Lee about her home run.

“Our coaches really preach to play for each other, and I think that’s what we did here today.”

Xavier's softball coachesTalk about making a deep run at state actually started before this season’s tryouts, Lee said.

Xavier (20-2) played one of the toughest schedules in 6A, but it helped the players. They made some adjustments at the plate when they faced the same pitchers at state, Lee said.

Eight of the nine Xavier players reached base. Freshman leadoff hitter Lauren Putz, the daughter of former Arizona Diamondback pitcher J.J. Putz, Donahey, and Elliot Smith each collected two hits in the game.

As for six-time state champ Red Mountain, it reached its first title game since the 2014 season and did so as the seventh seed. It defeated Hamilton, the No. 2 seed in the quarterfinals, and won 3-2 in extra innings in walk-off fashion in the semifinals.

It finished this season 18-6 under veteran coach Richard Hamilton.

Red Mountain finished 18-6 this season after a state 6A runner-up season as the 7th seed. azpreps365 photo.