Cathedral brings 19-0 record into playoffs

Published 12:44 am Friday, April 17, 2009

NATCHEZ — With a 19-0 record, it’s hard to imagine the Cathedral baseball team being worried about a game.

But coach Craig Beesley is still anxious before the Green Wave’s doubleheader in the first round of the MHSAA Class 1A playoffs.

Cathedral, the Region 8 No. 1 seed, will travel for two games against Noxapater, Region 6’s No. 4 seed, today.

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If those games are split, Noxapater will play Cathedral in game three at Chester Willis Field on Monday.

“You never know in the playoffs, especially on the road,” Beesley said of the likelihood of needing a game three. “You never know how the kids are going to react to the long ride.”

Beesley said he was told Noxapater has a lot of young players, and he said if the Green Wave can do what they need to on the mound they can secure a win.

Preston Edwards will pitch in today’s first game. The second game’s starting pitcher will depend on how many pitchers Cathedral uses in game one.

“The main thing is if the pitchers throw strikes,” Beesley said. “If they do that, I’m confident in the defense making the plays behind them.

“I feel good about our defense — better than I have in the past. I keep stressing to them that you can make a great play every now and then, but you have to make the routine plays every day.”

Beesley is also confident in the offense’s ability to swing the bat.

He said positions one through nine in the lineup are hitting the ball well. The problem, he said, has been getting those runners to score.

“Hitting with runners in scoring position with less than two outs (has been an issue),” he said. “We can’t afford to leave runners on base with less than two outs. I’ve been stressing it to the kids, we’ll just have to see if it sticks.”

Cathedral’s record would look a bit different had it not had to cancel six games this season due to weather.

Some of those, he said, were against good competition and could have helped the Green Wave prepare for the playoffs, especially the games in the Vidalia Catfish Classic.

“The main thing is not getting to see the quality pitching,” he said. “At that time we were 9-0, and I’m sure everyone was going to throw their No. 1 guy at us. That would have helped us, seeing better pitching.”

The Green Wave lost in the South State tournament this past season, and there are a lot of expectations for Cathedral to meet — or beat — last year’s performance.

But Beesley said there will be a tough road ahead of his team.

If Cathedral wins against Noxapater, the Green Wave will take on the winner of St. Aloysius and French Camp.

“Last year we caught a lot of breaks in the playoffs. We won a lot of games by one run,” Beesley said. “Those teams are returning a lot of their players this year. I would love to see us come back and make it to South State again, and it could be an interesting showdown in the second round.”