Tripped up: Senior trip leaves Bulldogs shorthanded in playoffs
NATCHEZ — When the Natchez High School baseball team travels to Petal High School Friday, it will be without four of its key players.
Seniors Derrian Johnson, Denzel Washington, JaDarrius Williams and Davion Ward will be gone on their senior trip, leaving the Bulldogs shorthanded in the opening round of the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 6A playoffs.
“We’re going to head there pretty young,” NHS head coach Brian Kossum said. “It’s a disadvantage, because we’d love to have the original starting lineup, but at the same time, it gives the kids a chance to have playoff experience.”
Though he won’t have the seniors this round, Kossum said he’s more than grateful for everything they’ve done for him this season.
“I told them they’ve really made my job easier coming in as a first-year coach,” Kossum said. “To have four guys who I know will come in, work hard and compete on a daily basis is worth its weight in gold.”
As far as Petal is concerned, Kossum said he doesn’t know much about this year’s team. But he said Petal has always been a perennial baseball powerhouse.
“We’re telling our guys, ‘Here’s an opportunity. Let’s make something of it,’” Kossum said. “We started the year realizing we had to play above ourselves to win ball games, (but) now we’re confident. Now we expect to win.”
NHS (6-12) will play at 6 p.m. Friday at Petal.
Cathedral High School
The Green Wave capped off their regular season with an 11-7 win against Franklin County last week, and now Cathedral is looking ahead to Resurrection Catholic.
Cathedral (12-8) will host Resurrection out of Pascagoula at 5 p.m. Thursday for Game 1 in the first round of the MHSAA Class 1A playoffs.
“Anything can happen in the playoffs,” Cathedral head coach Craig Beesley said. “We want to make sure we’re prepared. Thomas (Garrity) will get the start in Game 1, and I’ve not decided who will pitch in Games 2 and 3 yet.”
Cathedral was originally scheduled to play at South Pike Friday, but wet weather forced that game to be canceled. When the Green Wave take the field again, it will be more than a week since their last game. To combat the layoff, Beesley said the players will face live pitching against one another today.
“We’re going to have an intersquad game (today),” Beesley said. “I’m going to try to get all my pitchers but Thomas some action.”
Vidalia High School
While most Louisiana teams are done with their regular season, the Vikings still have one more game to play against district opponent Avoyelles High School.
And the stakes couldn’t be higher.
Vidalia was set to play a doubleheader against Avoyelles Thursday, but rain allowed only one of those games to be played. The Vikings will host Avoyelles at 4 p.m. today in a game that has a lot riding on it.
“If we win, we’re in (the postseason),” Vidalia head coach Kale Davis said. “We control our fate.”
Davis said he was unsure what the playoff scenario would be like for his team if they lose, but he said he’s only worried about getting his players to play up to their capabilities today.
“If we come out and play solid defense and put the ball in play, we’ll be OK,” Davis said. “We just have to show up and play a good game and try to keep it as close to perfect as we can.”
Vidalia (13-9, 4-5) won its Thursday game against Avoyelles 12-8.