Phoenix Xavier Prep’s softball team was No. 12 in the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s Division I power rankings entering Thursday’s (April 3) play, and after an 8-4 win over visiting No. 9 Mesa Skyline, the Gators should climb a spot or two with an even bigger rise a possibility in the coming weeks.
Xavier (12-5-1) is rounding into form, particularly on offense. The Gators collected 12 hits, including a two-run home run by third baseman Sam Syndenham in the third inning.
Xavier coach Bobby Pena said his team has been having some good batting practices of late, and it is showing during games.
Syndenham has been at the forefront of the offensive push.
“She has been hot, getting good, full swings in and getting behind the ball,’’ Pena said.
Skyline (15-3) was the early aggressor, scoring two runs on four hits in the first inning against Xavier freshman right-hander Lilly Giller.
“You’ve got to give them respect, coming in with the record they had and the fact they got those two runs early,’’ Pena said.
Xavier came back with three in the bottom of the first on RBI hits by Karlee Johnson and Syndenham and a throwing error.
Mallory Belknap tripled in a pair of runs in the second inning for a 5-2 Xavier lead.
Skyline cut it to 5-3 with a run in the third, but Syndenham connected for a 7-3 lead in the bottom of the inning.
Skyline thought it had an inside-the-park home run in the fourth when leadoff hitter Kristen Braley hit a fly ball down the right-field line that landed in fair territory and the ball scooted past the right fielder and into foul territory.
Braley came all the way around to score, but the umpires sent her back to second, ruling a ground-rule double after the ball got caught in some netting. Braley still managed to score later in the inning.
Pena is pleased that Giller is developing into a reliable pitcher.
“She has been hitting her spots,’’ Pena said. “The last two innings, we had her make some mechanical adjustments and she got a good result. She is smart to be able to adjust to it so quickly.’’