Beesley led team to 3-game series versus state runners-up
NATCHEZ — He’s coached a state championship team, won more than 200 games and eventually became athletic director at his school.
So going 15-10 may not seem like that big an accomplishment for Cathedral High School baseball coach Craig Beesley, who already has several bigger accolades to his name.
But after the Green Wave took eventual Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 1A runners-up Nanih Waiya High School to Game 3 in a playoff series, Beesley was named The Natchez Democrat’s 2013 All-Metro baseball coach of the year.
“I actually thought this was one of the hardest years in terms of coaching,” Beesley said. “It was hard to get this group on the same page. I’m excited to be considered in the conversation with some of the good coaches in the area.”
Perhaps the biggest win of the season came for the Green Wave May 4, when Cathedral came back from a 6-1 deficit against Nanih Waiya to win 7-6 in extra innings in Game 2 of their first-round playoff series. Cathedral would go on to lose Game 3, but Beesley said he was pleased with his team’s performance overall.
“Even though we didn’t make it deep, I thought we had a good season,” Beesley said. “We graduated a lot of key players from the year before, and we had a few upperclassmen coming back, but we were expecting a lot from the younger group, and some of them stepped up and really surprised us.”
Beesley said it wasn’t until midway through the season — after a 15-5 tournament win against Vidalia March 16 — that his players really began to jell.
“All kids are different,” Beesley said. “Some kids you have to yell to get their attention, and others you have to kind of back off and let them correct their own mistakes.
“I’d say that Saturday-evening game against Vidalia was the turning point. We were moving people around and pinch-hitting throughout the game. We made a lot of coaching moves, and that’s when the kids did a good job becoming team players and not individual players.”
This year’s group didn’t have as much experience as years past, Beesley said, but they gained valuable experience throughout the year.
“I thought we played better as the year went on,” Beesley said. “Talent-wise, I don’t think we were as talented as in years past, but it was a close-knit group that played well together.”
Looking ahead to next season, Beesley said he hopes his younger players continue to develop.
“I think this may be one of the best defensive teams we have coming up,” Beesley said. “I’m hoping our bats come around. Some of these kids hit well when they were younger (in youth ball), and I’m hoping that continues in high school.
“The biggest question next year is pitching. Our No. 1 in Thomas (Garrity) is coming back, but you always need a good No. 2 and 3 pitcher in the rotation.”