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Cathedral looks for payback against rival

NATCHEZ — It’s two games the Cathedral Green Wave would like to forget.

Undefeated and ranked No. 1 in Class 1A, the Wave were riding high before arch-rival St. Aloysius came into town and unceremoniously bounced Cathedral from the 2009 playoffs with two straight victories.

This year, the situations are reversed, with St. Al coming in ranked No. 1 and undefeated. And while it’s not a playoff game, Cathedral would like nothing better than to knock the Flashes off their No. 1 perch and give them their first loss.

“Revenge is going to be key,” Cathedral pitcher Dylan White said. “These are going to be the biggest games of our careers probably. As a senior this is my last time to play them. We just want to go out on top.”

Redistricting before the school year put the two Catholic rivals in the same district, so tonight’s game, as well as Thursday’s contest in Vicksburg, has more than just bragging rights riding on it.

Both teams are undefeated in district. St. Al (11-0) has a 4-0 record while Cathedral (10-2) is at 2-0.

A sweep of the two games by St. Al would lock up the district championship and possibly give them a No. 1 seed in the playoffs.

A sweep by Cathedral would put them in first place, but the Green Wave would still need to defeat West Lincoln at least once to clinch the title.

“This series means a lot to the playoffs,” Cathedral coach Craig Beesley said. “Whoever wins this series could be first in the playoffs, which is big concerning home field advantage.”

And the fact that both teams are among the best in the state makes the rivalry between the two schools a little hotter in baseball than in other sports.

“In baseball we’re pretty much even every year,” White said. “And now this year they are in our district and that’s even more incentive to win.”

But in order for the Green Wave to win, they will have to play their best game of the season, Beesley said.

“The main thing is we’re going to have to slow them down offensively,” Beesley said. “They’ve been scoring 15 to 20 runs per game. We have to play a good game on defense, because they’re not going to strike out a lot. We’ve been working on it in practice, but we’ve got to carry it over to the game.”

And Cathedral will also need a good pitching performance from White, who will get the start on the mound for the Green Wave.

“Dylan has lived up to it so far this year,” Beesley said. “He’s been in pressure situations before. He’ll be fine with that. We’ll just have to make the plays behind him.”

If White is feeling any nervousness from taking the mound in such an important game, he isn’t showing it.

“There’s definitely more pressure, but I like the pressure on the mound,” the senior hurler said. “I want the big game.”

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