Wave, VHS to face off

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 30, 2006

NATCHEZ &8212; Charlie Lane and Zack Calhoun are going out in a very different way than they came in with the Cathedral baseball program.

There are no big sluggers. No line of gap hitters that can clear the bases with a shot that goes on forever in the power alleys at Chester Willis Field. This team is using bunts, steals and sacrifices to get runs across and try to win baseball games.

It&8217;ll be a different feeling tonight when the Green Wave visit Vidalia in the annual matchup of two of the established programs in public school ranks. Save for the win against St. Al, the Wave has struggled at the plate and relied on defense and pitching to get the job done.

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Game time is at 5 p.m. at Vidalia.

&8220;We don&8217;t have the same team we&8217;ve had in the past,&8221; said Lane, the team&8217;s leader in hitting and runs batted in. &8220;We all get frustrated. The last couple of games have been good, but we know what we&8217;ve got to do. We&8217;ll get it done at the end.&8221;

When the Green Wave (8-2) has put a bunch of runs on the board, it&8217;s come with the help of errors from the opposition. But others games the bats have been hot and cold, including a 9-8 win over West Lincoln that left the Bears feeling as if they landed a moral victory.

It&8217;s not that things are going that bad, Calhoun noted. Things are just different this season, and the team is having to rely on other methods of getting the job done. It&8217;s pitching, defense and moving the runners over at the right time.

&8220;We&8217;re playing more small ball,&8221; Calhoun said. &8220;We don&8217;t have Jeremy Davis or Te Riley to put them out there for us. We&8217;re trying to do what we can to get runners on base. I&8217;d say this year our team defense is a lot better. We&8217;re never up by five or six runs, and we have to make the plays. Last year we&8217;d be up, and people would get laid back.&8221;

No frustration? Tell it to head coach Craig Beesley, whose teams in recent years always hit the ball from top to bottom. Last year&8217;s team got into the playoffs past the first round tournament on hitting &8212; don&8217;t forget those wins over Mize Mize with scores of 24-17 and 17-7 &8212; while thin on pitching.

It&8217;s different this year, that&8217;s for sure. But things still could change from here on out.

&8220;I think we can always improve,&8221; Beesley said. &8220;It&8217;s tough on some of the older kids when we&8217;ve had great hitting teams. This year we&8217;ve had to do a lot better job of bunting, stealing and baserunning. We normally play for the big inning, but now we try to move runners over any way we can.&8221;

Much of it this year is the turnaround following last year&8217;s team. Freshmen Kole Junkin and Preston Edwards have nailed down starting spots, sophomore Braxton Fondren is at second and the only seniors back from last year are Calhoun, Lane and Drew David.

David is normally lifted for the designated hitter, senior Jared Burkhardt is a first-year player after he and his family moved to Natchez following Hurricane Katrina and senior Murphy Hinson didn&8217;t play last season.

&8220;We&8217;re not going to score 10 runs a game like we normally do,&8221; Calhoun said. &8220;We don&8217;t have the offense. We&8217;ve been real streaky, and that&8217;s going to bite us in the butt if we don&8217;t start hitting as a team. (The young guys) are as a good as anybody out there this year. They&8217;ve got a future ahead of them.&8221;

That&8217;s why tonight&8217;s game may be something different for the Vikings in the latest installment of the rivalry. The two teams met up back on Feb. 23 at the Cathedral tournament with the Green Wave landing a 5-3 win. That, however, was the season opener for both teams.