THE BOYS OF SUMMER: Cathedral set to take on Heritage Tuesday in MAIS playoffs
Published 12:25 am Sunday, May 1, 2016
NATCHEZ — Cathedral High School has been a staple in the MHSAA Class 1A baseball playoffs for the past two seasons, twice going deep into the summer in competing for state championships.
The Green Wave hope another deep summer playoff run is on the horizon.
Cathedral is slated to take on Heritage Academy in the second round of the MAIS playoffs, the Green Wave’s first playoff appearance in their new league.
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Cathedral earned a bye in the opening round, and enters the playoffs with a wealth of postseason experience having advanced to the MHSAA Class 1A state finals in 2014 before winning it all in 2015.
Cathedral coach Craig Beesley said he hopes that experience will pay dividends for his squad.
“This group has been in some tough situations,” Craig said. “When we went to a third game last year against Sacred Heart (in round 2 of the playoffs), it was the turning point. We know we’re going to face some tough teams, and things might not always go our way. But if they continue to work hard and make the plays, hopefully by the end we’ll come out on top.”
The Green Wave lost just one starter from last year’s MHSAA state championship squad, and will enter the playoffs with seniors littered throughout the lineup with the exceptions of two spots.
Senior shortstop Andrew Beesley believes that experience perhaps gives his team a leg up on the competition.
“We know what everybody is going to do,” Andrew said. “We know our roles, and we know what we’re supposed to do. We’re not going to get up (to the plate) and try to jack it over the fence; we know what we’re supposed to do.”
Andrew also noted each player’s unselfishness and willingness to do whatever it takes for the team is a key advantage for the Green Wave.
“Nobody complains,” he said. “You’re batting 9-hole, nobody complains; that’s their job. They know they’re going to turn the lineup over, and it’s just nice to play with people like that.”
While Andrew is likely to occupy his top spot in the order come the series opener, pitcher Sam Parker is likely to start at least one game of the best-of-three series.
And starting big games is nothing out of the ordinary for Parker as the East Central Community College signee has gotten the nod in perhaps Cathedral’s most important district games against Columbia and Simpson academys.
While Parker holds a 3-1 mark in those four total contests against Columbia and Simpson, he was quick to point out he couldn’t do it without the help of the offense.
“The lineup is awesome,” Parker said. “It’s a really great lineup from top to bottom, and it’s great knowing I have that (capable) run support if I’m not having my best day.”
Yet rarely is Parker not at the top of his game as catcher Zach Flattman can attest.
“He just dominates the mound,” Flattman said. “Honestly, he’s a little intimidating at times, even as a catcher. But it’s good to see that; you want to see that in your pitcher.”
Cathedral enters its series showdown against Heritage playing perhaps its best baseball of the year after winning the final 13 games of the regular season. And while Flattman acknowledges the potential of winning back-to-back championships in separate leagues would be a tremendous feat, he and his Green Wave teammates are solely focused on the task in front of them.
“It would definitely be something special, but we just have to take it one game at a time,” Flattman said.
First pitch is slated for 6 p.m. Tuesday, weather permitting.