Good to be HOME: Cathedral players ‘put on a show’ in first game at newly-renovated stadium

Published 1:51 pm Wednesday, February 28, 2024

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NATCHEZ — After playing each of their first eight games on the road, with a couple of them being “home” games, Natchez High School and Cathedral School returned the friendly confines of a recently-renovated Chester Willis Field on Tuesday.

And while the players, coaches and fans of both teams were excited to be back in Natchez for the first time this season, the game itself didn’t quite live up to the hype — especially considering that Cathedral was 6-0 and Natchez High was 7-1 heading into this long-time rivalry game.

“I thought we played pretty well. It was the first night back at Liberty Ball Park (which some people still refer to as Chester Willis Field). Kids were excited and they were ready to play,” Cathedral head coach Andrew Beesley said. “They put on a show. We played well all-around.”

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Landon French pitched three shutout innings while Ethan Keith went 2-for-2 with a double, one run batted in and one run scored as the Green Wave needed just four innings to defeat the host Bulldogs 14-0 to remain undefeated.

After a scoreless first inning, Cathedral took the lead for good with four runs in the top of the second inning. The Green Wave added three runs in the top of the third inning to go up 7-0 and finished off Natchez High with a seven-run barrage in the top of the fourth.

The Bulldogs struggled at the plate against French and Eli Wilson, who didn’t allow any batters to reach base and struck out one in his one inning on the mound. The only base hits Natchez High had were singles by Jaylin Neal and Drylon Scott. French, who got the win, gave up a walk to Kvian Smith.

As for French’s performance on the mound, Beesley said, “He did well. He came out and filled up the zone with multiple pitches and controlled the game on the mound. I also thought he controlled their running game very well.”

Natchez High, which is known for its speed and has had several games in which has had 10-plus stolen bases, was held to just two stolen bases against the Green Wave.

Cathedral finished with eight base hits and its defense committed just one error. T. Fondren went 2-for-4 with one RBI and three runs scored while Walker Probst was 2-for-4 with one RBI and two runs scored. The Green Wave also drew eight walks.

“They’ve done a good job all year being patient at the plate, being selective with their pitches, and going deep in the count,” Beesley said. “It was a good crowd. It was a great atmosphere. It’s good to be back in front of Natchez people and playing at a home field.”

Meanwhile, Jaylin Davis went three and one-third innings and allowed 12 runs, only two of them earned, on five hits, struck out five batters and walked seven. Smith came on in relief and gave up two runs, both of them earned, on three hits and one walk in two-thirds of an inning.

Cathedral (7-0) will play host to Natchez High (7-2) at Chester Willis Field on Friday with the junior varsity game at 4:30 p.m., followed by the varsity game at 6:30 p.m.