Cathedral School getting new fields for baseball and softball

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 16, 2010

NATCHEZ — Mom and Dad might have taught that it was good to share, but Cathedral School isn’t listening in this instance.

And not sharing will give the school’s baseball and softball teams an edge they’ve never had: true home-field advantage.

Plans are under way for Cathedral to renovate a baseball field on Covington Road, and construct a softball field on campus from the ground up. This means the baseball team will no longer have to share Liberty Park with Natchez High School and Trinity Episcopal, and the softball team won’t have to use NHS’ field anymore.

Reagan White, president of the “C” Club, said the Covington Road field would have to have its outfield dimensions re-aligned for high school specifications.

“We’ll get started hopefully by about Wednesday and Thursday. We’ll start by moving a tree and moving the outfield fence back,” White said.

“It’s already a 13- and 14-year-old field, and its current dimensions are too short for high school, so we have to move the fences, upgrade things like the lights and probably make some improvements to the infield.”

As for the dugouts and backstop, White said they’re in usable condition, but added that the club would probably get around to upgrading those eventually.

“We want to get the field ready first, then worry about the dugout and backstop. We’re going to go in phases, and hopefully by the end of July we’ll have the outfield work done and possibly the infield sodded,” White said.

White said plans for a softball complex behind the football field, where the baseball team currently practices after school, are also coming together.

“It would be a great benefit to have and use on our own campus. The field is already pretty much level, save for one little spot (where home plate will be). We just need water and fertilizer, and we’ll have a beautiful outfield,” he said.

Since the softball field is getting built from the ground up, White said it would probably take until next February before it’s complete. The school plans to have work on the baseball field done by November.

Most of the equipment and funding for both complexes will be paid for through donations, although the school is expected to foot some of the bill, White said.

“Being a small school, we’re going to have to do a lot of the work on our own. Fortunately, we have a lot of people that can do what we’re trying to accomplish. We’ve been trying to do it for a while, and we have plenty of volunteers lined up, it’s just a matter of getting the shovel in the dirt,” White said.

As for how much it will ultimately cost, White said he’s unsure at this time.

“We’re starting to get quotes on the things we need, and the school’s going to help get started on the softball field for sure. As far as the baseball field, a lot of it’s going to just be labor before we start buying the material,” he said.

“We haven’t really raised (any money yet). We’ve had people donate fencing, netting and promised to help move lights. There’s not really a monetary number, more like a list of people that have assets we can use.”

Cathedral baseball coach Craig Beesley said he’s not selling short just how much of a difference having their own field will make for the Green Wave.

“It’ll be nice to be able to schedule freely without having to work around other teams. This gives us more of a home-field advantage than we’ve had in the past, because we’ve never been able to practice at Liberty Park,” Beesley said.

“When you play only nine to 10 home games a year, and that’s the only time you’re on there, it’s hard to understand the surroundings of the field. Having our own field to practice on gives you more of a sense of how the field plays.”

For the Cathedral softball team, having facilities on campus makes a huge difference to the players, coach Gary Blackwell said.

“This is going to be convenient for us, because we have cheerleaders and track athletes (that also play softball),” Blackwell said.

“Being a small school, everyone tries to do what they can in every sport, and this is going to be really convenient, for the cheerleaders especially. Now they can leave the gym and come right down to practice. Before, if they left the gym, it would take 15 to 20 minutes to get to practice, and now it’ll take less than five.”

And Blackwell said he’d like as many volunteers as possible to get the field built quickly.

“Anyone that wants to come and hammer a few nails, we’ll take all the help we can get,” Blackwell said.