Green Wave ready for MAIS finals

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 16, 2016

NATCHEZ — It’s impossible for two reigning state champions to meet in a state final, right?

Think again.

Cathedral High School baseball won the 2015 MHSAA Class 1A state championship, while Silliman Institute is defending its 2015 MAIS AA title. Both schools are coming off semifinal sweeps into the home stretch of the season, and will play a best-of-three series starting at 6 p.m. today at Chester Willis Field for the MAIS AAA crown.

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“These are two great baseball teams,“ Cathedral head coach Craig Beesley said. “They play fundamentally good defense, and they’re aggressive on the bases offensively. Their pitchers work both sides of the plate really well.”

Cathedral made the shift to MAIS in 2015. Since then, the Green Wave have won individual state championships in track and field and girls tennis doubles. Now, Beesley and his squad will try to earn Cathedral’s fifth baseball title in school history, his fourth as a coach.

Beesley said the biggest adjustment moving from MHSAA to MAIS is the Green Wave’s  unfamiliarity with their new opponents.

“We’re trying to get to know these teams as we go through the season,“ Beesley said. “We’re having to learn on the go pretty quickly. Luckily, we have a group of kids that can adjust on the go during games.”

While Silliman is a new rival to Cathedral, the state championship stage is perhaps old hat for the Green Wave class of 2016. Today, this year’s graduating class will have appeared in three state championship series.

The Cathedral lineup is stocked with seniors. Catcher Zach Flattmann and second baseman Craig Bradley are the only players in the regular starting lineup who are not seniors.

Beesley said before the team was making runs for high school state titles, the chemistry his 2016 team had developed through years of playing together as little leaguers.

“We knew when this group was in middle school, they could make some runs at state championships,” Beesley said. “The first year we went (to Trustmark Park in 2014) we only had three seniors starting for us and a bunch of 10th graders. They were kind of awestruck going into Trustmark Park, but they’ve matured so much since that 10th grade year.”

Cathedral is riding a 27-game home winning streak heading into today’s game. Cathedral hasn’t lost at Chester Willis Field since April 11, 2014.

The series is scheduled to shift to Clinton, La., Thursday for Game 2 and a potential Game 3.

“It will be a big confidence booster for us to go down (to Clinton) only needing to win one instead of two,” Beesley said.

Admission for today’s game will be $7.