White the real victor Friday night

Published 12:50 am Sunday, May 16, 2010

By their very nature, statistics are cold and uncaring things.

They are just numbers and letters that define winners and losers and performance levels of each player.

But it seems patently unfair that the statistics deem it necessary to place an L beside Cathedral senior pitcher Dylan White’s name after the Green Wave’s 6-2 loss to St. Aloysius in Game 2 of the South State championship series.

Because if statistics had a heart, there would be a space for a giant W beside White’s name in the box score along with St. Al pitcher Ryno Martin-nez.

For while White was officially the losing pitcher in the game, just the fact that he was on the field in any capacity, much less going the distance on the mound in the South State championship series, is a huge victory for both him and his Cathedral teammates and fans.

It was just four weeks ago that White lay in a crumpled mass on Alumni Field in Hammond, La., the victim of a head on collision with teammate Daniel Huffines that left White with a fractured skull, bleeding on the brain and his high school baseball career in doubt.

White was transported to Our Lady of the Lake Hospital in Baton Rouge and spent a couple of days there undergoing tests before being released.

White was Cathedral’s No. 1 pitcher and senior leader, and it looked like his absence might cripple the team’s championship hopes, especially after the Green Wave lost 4-3 to Natchez High in the regular season finale, its first game without White.

But White returned to the dugout for the first round of the state playoffs, wearing his baseball jersey and shorts and giving his team a cheerleader in the dugout.

And for their part, the team made a pact with each other. They were going to keep winning until Dylan could play baseball again.

They weren’t going to let his Cathedral baseball career end with an injury. They wanted it to end with him on the mound where he belonged.

And that’s exactly what they did. The Green Wave blew through the first two rounds of the playoffs, giving White a chance to play.

White was cleared by his doctor to resume playing baseball on Thursday, the date of Game 1 of the South State championship series at Chester Willis Field.

He entered the game as a pinch runner in the fourth inning to a big ovation and played the remainder of the game at shortstop.

And with Cathedral’s season hanging in the balance after the Game 1 loss, there was no question who to give the ball to in Game 2. It was going to be Dylan.

Of course if this was a Hollywood script, Dylan would have pitched a complete game shutout to lead his team to the state championship.

Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. White pitched well, especially for someone who hadn’t pitched in a game in almost a month, but Martin-nez pitched better, and the Flashes got the win.

However, the bigger winner was White, who finished his Cathedral career exactly where he deserved, on the pitcher’s mound.

“I want to thank everyone who prayed for me and my teammates for giving me a chance to play,” White said after the game. “I’m disappointed in the way it ended, but this season has been the most fun I’ve ever had playing a sport, and I want to thank my teammates for that.”

But Cathedral players, parents and fans also owe Dylan a big thank you for being an inspiration in perseverance and determination.

Because those characteristics were the big winners on Friday night, and the traits will continue to make White a winner long after he hangs up his baseball cleats.

Jeff Edwards is the sports editor for The Democrat. He can be reached at sports@natchezdemocrat.com, or by phone at 601-445-3632.