Cathedral opens season tonight

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 23, 2009

NATCHEZ — Cathedral came within one run of making it to the Class 1A state baseball finals last year.

This year, they want to finish the job.

The Green Wave return most of the players that made it to the South State finals last season, including their entire pitching staff.

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However, Green Wave coach Craig Beesley said the other strong teams in Class 1A are in the same position.

“We know we are going to have a tough road to go to the playoffs,” Beesley said. “Every team is going to have all their players back from last year. We know it’s going to be a tough go when we get there.”

Cathedral begins its march back to the playoffs tonight when they host Loyd Star at Chester Willis Field.

The junior varsity game begins at 5 p.m. while the varsity game will start at 7 p.m.

The strength of Cathedral’s team will definitely be its pitching staff.

Everyone is back from last year’s staff, including ace Preston Edwards, who will start the season opener tonight.

“We’re looking for pitching to be the strength of our team,” Beesley said. “Preston will be the No. 1 starter and there are a lot of kids battling for the No. 2 spot.”

While pitching should be very strong, it might take a little while for the bats to come around.

Cathedral’s leadoff and No. 2 hitters from last year — Braxton Fondren and Jesse Morrison — both graduated and Beesley is looking for someone to get on base in front of the middle of the lineup.

“We’ve got good long ball hitters but we’re looking for table setters now,” Beesley said. “We’ve got the middle of our order back, but if we can find somebody to replace the top two hitters, we’ll be alright.”

The Green Wave also graduated their middle infield, with shortstop Fondren and second baseman Blaze Bradford moving on.

Dylan and Aaron White have moved into those positions, with Dylan White playing shortstop and Aaron White moving to second base.

Daniel Jenkins has also switched positions this year, moving from first base to catcher to replace Morrison.

Cathedral easily won their district last year, but Beesley expects it to be tougher this year with an improved West Lincoln team in the mix.

“It’s going to be a battle to get the No. 1 seed in the playoffs,” Beesley said. “West Lincoln will be pretty good this year.”

And Beesley said the strong tradition and history of the Green Wave baseball program, including last year’s South State finals appearance, is a benchmark that this year’s team can shoot for and hope to improve on.

“They know they’re expected to play well,” Beesley said. “They don’t want to be the team that doesn’t make it as far as past teams. It gives them something to shoot for.”