Three local baseball teams call Chester Willis field homePublished 12:04am Wednesday, April 16, 2014
NATCHEZ — Most young athletes just want to play. No matter where or when, but coaches know the importance of playing games on their home turf.
But for Natchez High School, Cathedral High School and Trinity Episcopal Day School baseball teams, playing on a home field is a luxury.
The three schools share Chester Willis field in Liberty Park for practice and home games throughout baseball season with Natchez having the most home games and practice time.
Natchez High baseball coach Brian Kossum said he always remembers sharing the field when he was a Bulldog player.
“When I played back in 1998 to 2001, it was always us and Cathedral and off and on Trinity used it at times,” Kossum said. “There was a field on (U.S.) 61 and since they closed that, (Trinity) has been back to Chester Willis.”
For many years, Trinity also used the baseball field at the late Huntington High School, but had to stop after the creation of Delta Charter School.
Kossum said the players have always been willing to share the field since he was a Bulldog, but it’s different from a coaches’ standpoint.
“I think as a player, you don’t always see what’s going on in front of you,” Kossum said. “For (the coaches), we’re always aware that we may have to do something else (for practice) when Cathedral has a game. But we always got along. When they play, we try to come out and watch some good baseball.”
Cathedral coach Craig Beasley said the toughest part about sharing the field is scheduling.
But Beasley created a system that works for Kossum and Trinity coach Zach Rogel.
“Back in February, I sent a master schedule out to all of the coaches and athletic directors, and when anybody has a schedule change, it comes through me,” Beasley said. “Communication is vital, especially when we have rainouts. But we’ve worked together pretty well this year.”
The rainouts have been plentiful, and Beasley said it took a lot of extra effort from the coaches to reschedule games.
This season, Cathedral was able to host six home games, down from 10 last year. Trinity was only able to host two doubleheaders.
Rogel said it’s hard to give his seniors a memorable season with most of their games on the road, but they try to look on the bright side.
“My seniors only got to play two home games, and we had to have senior night at Tallulah Academy last week,” Rogel said. “But whether it’s home or away, it’s a family atmosphere between us, so it works out.”
Rogel’s biggest complication is the lack of practice time on a baseball field with almost half the team being fairly new at the sport.
“Five of our 12 players haven’t played baseball consistently,” Rogel said. “Our biggest thing is practice, we have a bunch of new guys and we’re out on a football field practicing, We’ve only been able to practice twice on Chester Willis.”
Rogel said practicing on the football field makes it harder for his players to get the feel for a baseball diamond.
The next hurdle the three teams must jump is the biggest one so far.
Each team is currently in the fight to make the playoffs, and if they all do, the coaches must put their heads together again.
“(Getting home field advantage) is huge, especially in the playoffs, you love to be at home,” Kossum said. “Once that starts, we’ll have to get together and see who’s playing and when.”