Step up to the plate …

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 3, 2010

NATCHEZ — It’s the tune you sing in the shower and hum along to as you’re brushing your teeth in the morning.

The song that puts a smile on your face and a pep in your step when you hear it.

Now if only you could get someone to play it for you right before that important business meeting or conference call with the boss.

Unfortunately, you’re not as cool as the Cathedral and Vidalia High baseball players.

The players at those two schools have the opportunity to hear their favorite song right before they go up to bat each time at home games. And it does make quite a difference.

“It gets me pumped up and gets my mind in the right frame of mind,” Cathedral’s Aaron White said of his particular song, “New Noise” from the Friday Night Lights movie soundtrack. “It’s one of the last songs that plays in the championship game (of the movie). I used to always listen to it before the game and this year I selected it as my walkout song.”

Cathedral players have been hearing their favorite songs before each at bat since 2004, when the team’s seniors put a CD together of each player’s favorite song to which to walk up to the plate.

“It’s been going on ever since then,” Cathedral coach Craig Beesley said. “For about the last 10 years, music has been a big part of getting the players pumped up for a game. The players really like it, and it has kind of a big time feel to it.”

Before the season, the Cathedral seniors will ask each player what his choice for a walkout song is. The seniors then burn a CD that is played on the public address system in each game.

Cathedral senior Tyler Ballard’s song for all four years has been Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama,” which might seem strange for southwest Mississippi.

But Ballard loves the song and said it helps him keep his composure as he makes his way to the plate.

“I think I’m the only one that’s ever had that song,” Ballard said. “But growing up that was always my favorite song. It’s a fun song and it helps me stay relaxed. (The song) never gets old.”

While White and Ballard, like many of Cathedral’s players, prefer guitar driven rock as their walkout music, Vidalia players Caleb Vines and Seth Thompson prefer a hip hop beat.

Vines’ song is “Better Believe It” by Lil Boosie. Vines said it’s all about the lyrics.

“It’s just saying you better believe it, that you’re about to do something big,” said Vines, a junior. “It just gives me confidence and a cocky attitude you need to be a great athlete.”

Thompson’s song “Oh, Let’s Do It” by Waka Flocka Flame gives him a similar feeling.

“If I’m not in the mood to play, listening to that song helps me get in the mood,” Thompson said. “The words just sum it up. When I get up to the plate I’m like ‘Oh, let’s do it. Pitcher you give me your best shot and I’ll give you mine.’”

Walkout music is not that widespread in high school baseball, so for the players at Cathedral and Vidalia, it is a special treat.

“It’s really nice,” Ballard said. “It almost makes you feel like you’re at the next level.”

“It just feels like a higher level of baseball,” Vines said. “I feel like I belong. It’s the real deal. I love it.”