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Beesley named All-Metro Coach of the Year

NATCHEZ — It was a year like none other for Cathedral baseball coach Craig Beesley.

From missing the first month of the season after being stricken with pneumonia to having his best player sidelined with a serious injury, the season was a series of highs and lows.

But Beesley was able to keep the ship steady and lead the Green Wave to a 19-7 record and the South State championship series for the second time in three years.

And for that reason, Beesley was named The Natchez Democrat’s All-Metro Coach of the Year for the third year in a row.

However, Beesley is quick to point out the help he received this year from assistant coach Ron Rushing, who took over the team in Beesley’s absence, and an outstanding team.

“This was the first year we had coach Rushing here, and he made a big difference,” Beesley said. “He did a great job while I was out keeping the team together and playing well.”

Beesley spent several days in the hospital and after he was released, he wasn’t allowed to attend the games for a couple of more weeks.

“It was real tough early,” Beesley said. “I missed about two weeks of games, so I had to keep up with the scores through text messages.”

Senior pitcher and infielder Dylan White said the team rallied around Beesley by playing the best it could.

“When he was out we just tried to play for him,” White said. “We played like he would want us to, like we knew we could.”

Once Beesley returned to the dugout, the Green Wave went on a winning streak, but they faced more adversity when White suffered a fractured skull in a collision late in the season.

However, the team, already close, rallied around White and pulled together to advance to the South State championship series before falling to St. Aloysius, which went on to win the Class 1A state championship.

Beesley said the team pulling together was just an example of the togetherness and chemistry the players had with each other.

“This is not one of the most talented teams I’ve had, but it was one of the closest and had the best chemistry we’ve had in quite a while,” Beesley said. “Everybody seemed to pick each other up. There was always somebody different coming up with a big hit or big defensive play.”

And White said Beesley played a big part of that.

“He is a great coach,” White said. “He tells us when we’re doing wrong to help us out. He just wanted to get the best out of all of us.”

And while Beesley has the honor of being named coach of the year, he said an even better reward was getting to coach the group of seniors who finished up their Green Wave careers this spring.

“It was just a real pleasure to coach them,” Beesley said. “That group made the South State finals two out of four years. They were great kids and a real good group for them. I really enjoyed having them for four years.”

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