NORMAN — For many teams in Norman, the Crosstown Clash is the biggest date on their schedule. It’s the game that can make or break the season. The one that determines bragging rights, and the one that the players are most concerned about.
For the Norman High and Norman North baseball teams, that’s not the case this year.
“When I got to North 10 years ago, the goal of every one of our players was to beat NHS,” North coach Brian Aylor said. “With our success here our goals have shifted so it’s not as big of a deal. Our only goal is to stay on top of the district undefeated, and the Clash is completely separate from any other goals.
“But it’s still important to the players, and there’s a long tradition in this series.”
It’s a similar attitude at NHS, which will be the fresher team when the two squads meet at OU’s L. Dale Mitchell Park for the first night of a two-game series with their crosstown rivals. While North played a pair of district games earlier in the week, NHS had the time off after playing six games last week, and will have the entirety of the pitching staff available.
Coach Pete Sangirardi said the Tigers are excited for the game but recognize it’s a non-district game that ultimately means very little when the postseason begins.
Not that they aren’t excited to play the always-hyped game on such a stage.
“But next to districts this is the next biggest thing,” he said. “The kids are going to get up for it. I know it’s a rivalry game and means a lot to them.”
This year, the Clash will be played on a bigger stage. It’s the first time the game will be played at OU, a special accommodation typically reserved for the football squads, which meet on Owen Field every fall.