Cathedral hits the diamond

Published 12:01 am Friday, February 17, 2012

Blake Martin, right, practices swinging as Lee Fairbanks tosses him a ball Thursday afternoon during practice with the Cathedral High School baseball team. (Lauren Wood \ The Natchez Democrat)

 

NATCHEZ — The only thing missing from this year’s Cathedral High School baseball team is a lefty pitcher.

That was head coach Craig Beesley’s assessment of his squad heading into the season. Beesley said he will rely on seniors Caleb Upton, Collin Hammons and Blake Martin to head up the Green Wave’s pitching staff.

“(Lefty) Tyler Morrison graduated last year, but we feel those three seniors will step up,” Beesley said. “They’re all righties, but I feel like they’ll get the job done.”

Despite not having a lefty to put on the mound this season, Martin said he expects the pitching staff to be a strength for Cathedral.

“I don’t think it’ll really change anything,” Martin said. “I feel like we can get both righties and lefties out.”

Cathedral High School baseball player Jamon Gray works on bunting during practice Thursday afternoon. The varsity team opens up their season with an exhibition game against Natchez High School on Saturday. (Lauren Wood \ The Natchez Democrat)

Beesley said Martin has shown the most improvement of the three from last season until now, and he’s looking for Martin to have a strong senior campaign.

“He’s had better command for us than in past years, and he did a good job last season in the playoffs against Nanih Waiya, which eventually won the state championship,” Beesley said. “He’s gotten a lot stronger.”

Upton, who will primarily play at catcher this season, is another option if Beesley has to go to the bullpen during a game, Beesley said.

“He’ll throw for us if we get deep into a game and we need someone who can throw strikes,” Beesley said. “He’s got good control and a good offspeed pitch.”

While Upton and Martin have played other sports for Cathedral during the school year in addition to baseball, Hammons said he decided to only do baseball his senior year.

“It was mainly to keep my grades up,” Hammons said. “I’ve had trouble with that in the past, and I (also) wanted to get my mind focused solely on baseball.”

Hammons said he expects very good things out of this year’s team, and he said the Green Wave’s goal this year is nothing less than a state title.

“We’re a better all-around team this year,” Hammons said. “We come together as a group better, and we have a lot better leadership.”

Green Wave head baseball coach Craig Beesley talks to the players during practice. (Lauren Wood \ The Natchez Democrat)

While the pitching staff might be set, Beesley said he’s hoping to see his team’s offensive production pick up after a slow start to practice.

“Hitting is a question mark for us right now,” Beesley said. “We haven’t had a lot of time on the field with the weather being the way it has, and we just got our basketball players back (Thursday).

“I feel like we’ll be OK once everyone gets back together, we’re just not hitting well right now.”

The Green Wave were eliminated in the third round of the playoffs last season, and Beesley said an improved district will make the regular-season more interesting for his squad.

“We still have the same teams, but everyone’s gotten a lot better,” Beesley said. “We think it’ll be a lot more competitive.”

Cathedral will play Natchez High School in an exhibition game at 11 a.m. Saturday at Chester-Willis Field.