Cathedral gears up for upcoming softball season with new head coach

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 16, 2017

Cathedral High School athletic director Craig Beesley is now the newest member of the Green Wave — well, Lady Wave.

Beesley — newly appointed as Cathedral’s head softball coach — will be in front of a home crowd on July 31 as he leads his first ever softball game.

“It’s been exciting, and it’s my focus right now,” Beesley said.

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When longtime softball headman Gary Blackwell announced his retirement this summer after nearly two decades with the school, it left a vacancy in Cathedral’s coaching staff.

With the spot still open in late June, Beesley jumped on the idea of taking the program into his hands. Yet, he didn’t know if it would work.

“We had to wait on the new principal (Norman Yvon) to come in, being that the fall is the busy time for the athletic director,” Beesley said. “He said he would give us one year to see if we could make it work, and as soon as he said that I took (the job) as fast as I could. I wanted to help these girls out. We wanted to make sure we had everything in line so they would be ready for that first game.”

Once the position was secured, Beesley said, he immediately set up tryouts for the team.

“These girls were antsy to get started,” he said. “It was getting late in the summer and a lot of work had to be done.”

Over the past few weeks of practice, Beesley said he has seen nothing but dedication and a smooth transition.

“It hasn’t been bad because I know most of these girls,” he said. “No issues have come up so far, and we have been rolling and learning a lot of stuff. We have to go through a lot of terminology.”

The team’s sense of comfort may be linked to the return and guidance of the Lady Wave’s two seniors, Emily Rasco and Caroline Kaiser.

Rasco will take her post at first base, while Kaiser will be in center field.

“Being a senior you have to step up and lead your team,” Kaiser said. “It’s weird not having anybody above you, but I’m excited.”

For Rasco, she said she trusts Beesley to keep Cathedral on track.

Beesley has also coached as a part of the Green Wave baseball program for nearly 25 years, reaching 300 wins as head coach this past season. He has also led Cathedral to two state championships.

“I’m really excited to have him out here with us because he has been around baseball,” Rasco said. “We always been around him at the school, so we know him well. He knows what he’s talking about. It’s a whole new atmosphere, and it’s really fun and energetic.”

Beesley said if he is worried about one thing for the upcoming season, it would be Cathedral’s presence in the circle.

The Lady Wave is missing 100 percent of its innings pitched from last season, losing standouts Elizabeth Smith and Marty Lewis to graduation.

“That is the first issue that we will have to deal with,” Beesley said. “The main thing is that our pitchers throw a lot of strikes. Then, I think our defense will be pretty solid.”

Young pitching has also resulted in a few uncertainties on offense, Beesley said.

“We haven’t hit a lot of live pitching, even though we have put a lot of reps in,” he said. “There is always a difference when you see someone change speed on you, but I’ve been very impressed with the way some of the girls have swung.”

Until Cathedral takes on Centreville Academy in the team’s opening contest of the season, Beesley is just focusing on securing the fundamentals.

As athletic director — a role he has had since 2010 — Beesley is required to be at every sporting event. In the fall, Cathedral competes in football, cross country and girls soccer, as well as softball.

“They all go on at the same time,” he said. “It’s just a lot of places I have to be, but it’s been good. I’ve put a lot of pressure on them just to see how they would react, and they have done real well. I will still be learning the last game of the year, and I’m sure they will still be learning from me. But, if it’s anything like these first three weeks, I would love to stay.”