All-Metro Softball Coach of the Year: Blackwell leads CHS to South State series
Published 12:01 am Monday, June 1, 2015
NATCHEZ — Cathedral head softball coach Gary Blackwell knew he had talented athletes this year, it was just a matter of finding the right formula for success.
He was able to do just that, leading the Lady Wave to the MHSAA Class 1A South State championship series, which earned him The Natchez Democrat’s 2015 All-Metro Softball Coach of the Year.
“The first thoughts I had were trying to figure out how we were going to mix this up and make a team,” said Blackwell of the beginning of the season. “It took us a little while to figure out the recipe we needed to get everybody in positions.”
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Blackwell said before the season even stared, the chatter had begun about what was expected out of the team and the lofty goals were set.
“(The team) was talking about a state championship,” Blackwell said. “They wanted it really bad. They knew what they needed to do to get the team together to get where they needed to be.”
The early goings were tough for the Lady Wave who dropped a few games at the beginning of the season, but it was those games, Blackwell said, that had them ready.
“We played some big teams,” he said. “Some 5A and 6A schools, and it took us a few games to get that mix just right. But once we did, things started gelling for us, and we started putting it all together.”
Cathedral began racking up win after win and found themselves sitting atop their district at the end of the season 5-1 record in district play.
“It was about halfway through the season when we really started clicking,” Blackwell said. “It makes you feel pretty good to know that your team is putting out that kind of effort, especially when you are seeing them dive for balls or running into the fence. You know then that this team is for real.”
The Lady Wave were able to prove they were a force when playoffs began.
After a first round bye, the Lady Wave took on Noxapater and easily rolled through them. In the next round, Cathedral continued to cruise, sweeping Sebastapool.
“It was a lot of fun for them and for the coaches for sure,” Blackwell said of the playoff run. “They wanted it really bad and started working really hard. To see them excel with all the work they put in was really exciting.”
The Lady Wave’s season came to an end in the South State series against Nanih Waiya, but Blackwell said their season was a success nonetheless.
“It is a lot easier when you have the athletes that we had this year to work with,” Blackwell said. “They knew what they needed to do, and wherever we put them, they did their job.”
Blackwell will be tasked with filling two holes from graduating seniors, but said things are still looking up for the Lady Wave.
“We are losing two really great athletes and it is going to be a challenge to fill those two spots for sure, but we have the athletes to do it,” he said. “I feel pretty good and we should be able to compete next year and have another great run in the playoffs for sure.”