Flashes hyped, Green Wave focused

Published 12:06 am Thursday, April 23, 2009

I’ve said before that baseball is my favorite sport.

It’s only made better when there’s a big rivalry game with a lot at stake, like tonight’s game between Cathedral and St. Aloysius.

The two teams will meet up in the second round of the MPSA Class A playoffs with game one at Chester Willis Field today, but this game feels more like a state championship than a playoff.

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At least, it does to St. Al.

Maybe that’s because the Flashes have lost nine of their last 11 games against the Green Wave. Maybe it’s because Cathedral won the state title in 2004 and has reached the semifinals since then, while St. Al hasn’t reached the finals since 2002.

Either way, the 20-3 Flashes are pumped. Shortstop Ryno Martin-nez told The Vicksburg Post he was looking forward to putting the Green Wave out of the playoffs.

“We could go 0-21 and they could be 40-0, and none of that would matter right now,” St. Al coach Clint Wilkerson told The Vicksburg Post. “When we get together, it’s game on. It’s a war.”

Not so, says Cathedral, who is downplaying these next two or three games as just a couple in a long road to the state championship.

Coach Craig Beesley said the hype is for the fans, not the players, and his team is focused on the task at hand.

But Beesley does understand the excitement for the Flashes.

“We’ve been in this situation the last four or five years. This is their first,” Beesley said. “They’ve been building this young team for a while now, and there’s lots of pressure on them to perform now that they’re upperclassmen.”

Cathedral’s only revenge against St. Al would be for losses in another sport — football. The Green Wave are generally overmatched against the Flashes on the gridiron, and they suffered a heartbreaking 31-28 loss to the Flashes with a last-minute touchdown catch by Martin-nez this past season.

The rivalry between the two Catholic schools situated about 75 miles apart is strong either way, and this series has been made stronger by the fact that their only scheduled regular season meeting this year was rained out.

Cathedral has suffered so many weather delays and cancellations that it forfeited home-field advantage in round one in order to avoid another one.

Not that it mattered — the Green Wave won 18-0 and 13-0 in two games at Noxapater on Friday.

But Cathedral would obviously love to keep its 21-0 record spotless, and St. Al — who clobbered French Camp for a combined 30-2 in round one — would love to tarnish the Cathedral goose egg and defeat its heavyweight foe.

So the war between the Catholics is on tonight in the Miss-Lou. The battle will be fought at Liberty Park at 6 p.m.

Krysten Oliphant is a sports reporter at The Natchez Democrat. She can be reached at sports@natchezdemocrat.com.