The progression of the Desert Vista softball program took another big step.

The No. 20 Thunder beat No. 13 Xavier 3-1 on Saturday in the first-round of the Division I state playoffs to force a familiar scenario.

Desert Vista will now face No. 4 Gilbert in Saturday’s second round in an elimination game. It is the spot and opponent last year’s squad faced as the season ended in an 8-2 loss when the Thunder were seeded 20th and the Tigers fourth.

It’s eerily similar but it is clear the Thunder (20-11) expects a different outcome.

“We are pretty determined to beat Gilbert this year,” senior pitcher Dani Block said. “It’s pretty funny how we have them and they are standing in our way again. We are ready.”

The big hit in win over Xavier came from junior designated batter Kylee Wiegl, who hit a two-run home run in the fourth inning.

“That was a game changer,” said Block, who improved to 17-6. “After that we were ready to take it.”

Desert Vista coach Chris Crowl said Wiegl has been coming on of late.

“The last two or three weeks so has gotten a lot of extra base hits lately and she got a hold of that one,” he said. “It was neat to see as she has worked her way through the program and came through in a big spot.”

Block did the rest after Madison Bailey added an RBI double for a 3-0 lead.

“This was huge step for us and Dani was lights out,” Crowl said. “We had some huge bang-bang double plays. It was great all-around game. We can’t seem to get away from Gilbert and if we want to get to the next level we are going to have to find away to get the best of them.”

Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or JSkoda@ahwatukee.com. Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.

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