Cathedral senior pitcher has memorable days on, off field

Published 12:27 am Monday, May 9, 2016

NATCHEZ — What a weekend for Gabe Smith

The Cathedral High School senior pitcher signed with Copiah-Lincoln Community College Friday, then capped it off with a sharp outing Saturday, pitching 6.2 innings in a 5-3 win over Heritage Academy and lifting his squad into the MAIS AAA baseball semifinals.

“I got to sign (Friday), and that was exciting,” Smith. “(Saturday) I threw pretty well. I struggled a little out of the stretch, but in the windup I was comfortable.”

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Smith said Friday’s signing was the culmination of the dedication he has poured into his craft throughout the years.

“All the hard work is paying off,” Smith said. “I’m really looking forward to it.”

Cathedral baseball head coach Craig Beesley said the Wolfpack are not only getting a standout player, but also a quality individual.

“They’re getting someone that knows the game, loves the game and knows how to pitch,” Beesley said.

“He’s always respectful to everybody. He’s a good team player — he knows his role on the team offensively and as a pitcher. You’re never going to get a complaint out of him.”

While Saturday’s outing was perhaps Smith’s biggest of the year, the right-handed hurler is no stranger to the big stage as he has served as his squad’s No. 2 pitcher throughout the year.

“I love playing in the big spotlight,” Smith said. “I’m ready to keep this thing going, and hopefully win state.”

In conjunction with East Central Community College signee Sam Parker, the duo has proven to be a lethal 1-2 punch at the top of the Cathedral rotation.

“We’ve played together for a long time,” Smith said of his relationship with Parker. “He’s more of a power guy, and I pitch to more contact.”

Beesley said it has been more than a blessing having the reliable pitchers to anchor the staff as the Green Wave transition to the stingy MAIS league.

“I know Gabe is going to go out there and battle for me,” Beesley said. “The biggest thing about him is that he’s going to throw strikes and work ahead in the count. He’s got two pitches (fastball and curveball) that he can throw and keep (the hitters) off balance. He loves the curveball. He likes to throw the curveball when he gets ahead in the count, and it’s a good one.”

With Smith preparing for a momentous step in his young career, he will forever remember his time at Cathedral, establishing close bonds with teammates and coaches along the way.

“It’s been a blast,” Smith said. “I’ve had two awesome coaches — (former Cathedral football) Coach Ron (Rushing) and Coach Craig. I feel like I have had two of the best coaches in the state, and it’s been a lot of fun. I’ve been playing with guys since I was 8 years old, and it’s good playing with close friends and coaches with good knowledge.”

Smith and his teammates will be back in action Tuesday in the MAIS quarterfinals when they travel to Indianola Academy.