By Corbin Hosler
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Ten games into the season, Norman North has already faced its share of adversity. The defending state runner-up has dealt with injuries, travel and tough losses in a 6-4 start, a stretch in which coach Brian Aylor has seen both positives and negatives.
On the negative side, the biggest setback has been what could turn out to be a season-ending injury to second baseman Kallen Snodgrass. Losing the senior forced the Timberwolves to shuffle the lineup significantly and has led to some growing pains as younger teammates step up.
The T-Wolves also endured a rare three-game losing streak after dropping a game against Moore in which North led by four runs midway through the game. Aylor said that his team had a tough time responding to the loss, and the T-Wolves dropped their next game against Yukon and then the first game at spring break tournament in Florida.
“I like to evaluate our season every 10 or so games, and a third of the way through we’re not where we hoped we would be record-wise,” Aylor said. “The injury threw everyone for a loop. Losing his leadership and playing some of our younger players is something we’re still adjusting to.”
But there’s plenty of reason for optimism around the team as well. With Tuesday’s 12-2 run-rule victory over Putnam City West North is 4-0 in district play and playing its best baseball of the season so far. The win followed another run-rule victory over Putnam City West on Monday and puts North back onto a winning streak before a tough road game at Southmoore on Friday.
With the meat of the schedule still in front of them, Aylor said he’s comfortable with the direction his team is headed.
“Our last game in Florida we played one of the best games we’ve played this season,” he said. “And our goals are still intact, one of which is to win the district. All of the games matter, but picking up these district wins put us into the position we want to be as far as hosting a regional.”
The lineup has also begun to sort itself out. Austin Cranford has moved back to the closer role he’s comfortable in and Thomas Hughes has taken over some starting responsibilities. With Brad Kinsey 2-1 as the ace of the staff and several players batting over .300, North is beginning to come into its own with only a few early-season, non-district losses to show for it.
“It’s been tough, but I think in the long run it will make us a better team,” Aylor said. “The consistency isn’t there yet, but having faced that adversity with some of our younger guys, it’s going to help us in the future.”
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