Cathedral’s goal is to keep winning so White can play again

Published 2:52 am Wednesday, April 28, 2010

NATCHEZ — When the Cathedral Green Wave players take the field this weekend in their MHSAA Class 1A first round playoff series, their goal isn’t to win the school’s first state championship since 2004.

It’s to give senior pitcher and second baseman Dylan White one more chance to play high school baseball.

White, who suffered a skull fracture in a head-on collision with teammate Daniel Huffines last Wednesday, has a chance to return this season, but it won’t be for several more weeks at the least, which means the Green Wave have to keep winning and keep advancing through the playoffs, which begin at 6 p.m. Friday against Ethel at Chester Willis Field.

“With losing Dylan, it’s made us come together more because the only chance Dylan has of playing would be state (finals),” senior Aaron White said. “So we’re working as hard as we can to get there and give him a chance to play.”

So instead of state championship dreams, Cathedral’s goal is just to give their senior leader the chance to play high school baseball again.

“That’s our goal right now,” Aaron White said. “It would be terrible him ending his season with an injury and not getting to play in the playoffs. We’re trying to get that for him.”

Dylan White was much more than just the No. 1 pitcher and second hitter in the lineup. He was the unquestioned leader of the team. And that will be hard to replace, Cathedral coach Craig Beesley said.

“Dylan was without a doubt our team leader,” Beesley said. “That’s big, and a lot of people don’t think of that. They just look at the stats. But his leadership is a key ingredient in the playoffs. We’ve got to have somebody that’s been there before and he has.”

With Dylan White out, other Cathedral seniors such as Aaron White will have to step up and fill that void.

White, who was Cathedral’s No. 2 starting pitcher all season, will slide into the top spot for the playoffs.

“Me being the second pitcher after him puts a lot of pressure on me,” Aaron White said. “I’ve got to step up. The seniors have been talking and trying to be leaders to everyone else.”

And the Green Wave will need that leadership as they go into the playoffs staggering a bit.

In addition to Dylan White’s injury, Cathedral also enters the playoffs on a two-game losing streak, including an upset loss to Natchez High last Saturday.

“Ethel is a solid team,” Beesley said. “They are scrappy and take advantage of every mistake they get. We’ve got to play good defense and throw a lot of strikes.”

With Aaron White sliding into the No. 1 pitching slot, that opens up the No. 2 slot. Beesley said Tyler Morrison and Cole Mann will fill that position and be ready to pitch in Game 2 on Saturday.

“We’ll have pitching by committee if we need to, but we’ll go mainly with Tyler Morrison and Cole Mann,” Beesley said.

Beesley would also like to see the Green Wave improve their hitting, which has fallen flat in the last couple of weeks.

“We’ve got to do a better job of situational hitting,” Beesley said. “We’ve had runners in scoring position with less than two outs the last couple of games and we haven’t advanced them or scored them. We’ve got to get them home. Hitting is contagious and I feel if we start the game off hitting well it will continue.”

Cathedral’s bats might be a question mark, but if focus and will has anything to do with the outcome, the Green Wave’s starting pitching should be just fine on Friday night.

“It has been a lot of pressure, but I do well under pressure,” Aaron White said. “(Dylan’s injury) has made me train a lot harder this week. I’m going to give it all I’ve got so he’ll be able to play again.”