Cathedral welcomes Bulldogs

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 23, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; Of the 21 Mize batters Cathedral pitcher Jeremy Davis retired in last year’s Class 1A first round matchup, not one hitter struck out.

Still Davis came away with the 8-3 win in the second game as Cathedral swept the best-of-three series from the Bulldogs after Chris Norris defeated them 4-3 in the opener.

Davis hopes his duties for this year’s second round series with Mize, which begins Friday at 7 p.m., will mainly include manning center field and knocking in Green Wave runners.

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&uot;They’re a very good hitting team and will put the ball in play,&uot; Davis said. &uot;Our defense better get ready to play. We better be on our toes.&uot;

Cathedral (15-6) head coach Craig Beesley has Te Riley penciled in on the mound for the opener, but said either Davis or Brent Tosspon could see work is Riley falters against a Bulldog (25-2) team that only lost to Class 2A Seminary twice by scores of 5-4 and 4-0.

Beesley expects Mize to throw Josh Melton, who transferred to Mize from Magee, Friday evening and possibly last year’s No. 1 Adam McAlpin in Saturday’s contest in Mize.

Both hum fastballs in the low to mid 80s and Melton combats his heater with a dangerous curveball.

&uot;Both pitchers are right-handed, so we’re hoping to hit them as good as we’ve been swinging the bat lately,&uot; Beesley said. &uot;I’ve been pleased with our approach at the plate. It’s aggressive, but we’re not swinging at bad pitches.&uot;

In last year’s sweep Cathedral shortstop Garrett Jones busted out of an early season slump by going 5 for 8.

Jones said he followed the advice of then-head coach Ken Beesley to answer the bell when the postseason came knocking.

He’s confident the Green Wave can overcome Mize, despite its gaudy record and division 8-1A title.

&uot;The whole team is pretty confident with everything we’re doing,&uot; Jones said. &uot;I’m coming here ready to play every game. I’m not worried about what lies ahead.&uot;

The Green Wave can pledge loyalty this weekend’s series and pretend to ignore the future, but the brackets don’t lie.

A win over Mize sets up a possible rematch of last season’s

emotional South State championship with bitter rival St. Aloysius.

Cathedral and the Flashes split the two regular season games this season with each winning at their respective confines.

&uot;There’s no doubt in my mind we’ll be taking Mize seriously,&uot; Beesley said. &uot;I can’t see us overlooking them. With four teams left in the South and eight overall, any of us can win.&uot;

Beesley said getting last weekend’s first round sweep of St. Joseph &045; Greenville over with in two games meant a lot.

He said coaches never want to take their teams on the road in a do-or-die situation and being able to steal the first game last Wednesday by shutting down St. Joe’s cleanup hitter with the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh was gi-normous.

&uot;That’s always a big accomplishment for your overall mental state of the game,&uot; Davis said of the sweep. &uot;It gives you more confidence and you can start thinking and preparing for the next team earlier.&uot;

This Green Wave team is dripping with self-assurance. Neither cocky nor arrogant are the right words.

It’s a cool, poised demeanor that seeps from being battled tested in playoff games whether it’s as a student-athlete at Cathedral or in summer league games.

With a tough out-of-division schedule including teams like Vidalia, Brookhaven and a Lawrence County team that is still in the Class 4A playoffs, but lost to the Green Wave, Goliath could be waiting in the wings and he would not frighten Cathedral’s smoking lineup right now.

&uot;We’re just hot right now. The first five batters are hitting over .400 and everybody is in that groove,&uot; Davis said. &uot;Right now we are being smart, but aggressive at the plate and I think everybody has finally found the right mix this season.&uot;