FAMILIAR FOES: Cathedral, Smithville meet for second time to decide 1A title
Published 12:01 am Wednesday, May 20, 2015
NATCHEZ — After last year’s MHSAA Class 1A State Championship baseball series, not many predicted Cathedral and Smithville would meet again the following year to duke-it-out once again for the title. But today, the Green Wave (23-4) and Seminoles (20-12) will go at it again in the 2015 championship series at 1 p.m. in Pearl at Trustmark Park.
“After the game last year you never think you’ll face that team again,” Cathedral head coach Craig Beesley said. “But here we are a year later and it is the same two teams in the championship.”
Smithville, who claimed the title last year after winning the series with a 6-2 win and 6-1 win, was forced to rebuild this season, while Cathedral simply added another year of experience under their belts.
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“The big thing is this is a totally different team from last year,” Smithville head coach Stephen Kerr said. “We lost four good seniors, and this year we aren’t able to rely on as many upperclassmen. We have a lot of 8th, 9th and 10th graders that we’ve played. It’s been a tougher road, but we are excited to be here and compete.”
Cathedral lost just three seniors from a team that was carried by sophomores and freshmen last season. And now, with the addition of senior Quinton Logan, the Green Wave hope to be in prime position to strike.
Beesley said Logan, who will start for Cathedral on the mound in Game 1, will be a key in the series.
“I always feel with Quinton on the mound, in Game 1 we’ll have the advantage,” Beesley said. “Not that their kid isn’t a star pitcher, but Quinton is just on another level right now in high school baseball, and I feel like that definitely gives us an advantage.”
While Logan will be forced to shoulder most of the high pressure game, he said it doesn’t bother him.
“I just think of it as another series,” he said. “Nothing big, just try to work like I always do.”
Kerr said he knows the task ahead is daunting, but believes his team has what it takes to put up a fight.
“We are just hoping to go out there and play,” he said. “I’m telling mine about repeating and he is probably telling his about revenge, but our kids are ready to play.”
Despite losing a multitude of talent, Kerr said the Seminoles do return some starters from last season.
“Micah McCain, Kyle Noe, Blake Comer, Cole Williams and Neil Knight all played for us last year,” Kerr said. “We had to replace everything else, but it is big to have those kids back.”
Cathedral catcher Zach Flattmann, who was on last year’s team, said today’s game is paramount and if the Green Wave want a chance in the series, they need to take Game 1.
“It is the biggest thing,” he said. “It sets the tone. If we go out there and set a great tone, the momentum will shift towards us for Game 2. So we’ve got to come out focused and play ball.”
For Smithville, Kerr said the Seminoles will need to manage the game and play their style of baseball to compete.
“We’ve got to throw strikes and play good defense, and that goes for anything,” Kerr said. “We’ll have to scratch across some runs, too. Runs came easier for us last year, but I think we’ll have to play with intensity and mistake free. They will have to make mistakes because they are about as good of a team as you could ask for.”
While a win for Cathedral will complete their season’s mission, Beesley said a win in this series would also lift a weight from the school’s shoulders.
“It has been a long time since we’ve won a championship in baseball,” he said. “We’ve won three total. Smithville has actually beaten us in three championships. They beat us in football, softball and last year in baseball. We’ve never beaten them in any sport for a championship. So not only are we trying to make up for what we did last year, we are also trying to get that of our back that we can’t beat Smithville.”