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March 10, 2014

For NHS and North, all eyes focused on the mound

NORMAN — Baseball season is in full swing, with both Norman High and Norman North playing a full slate of games this week, and both teams have pitching on their minds.

For defending state runner-up North, it’s a pitching core led by several returners who believe they have what it takes to get the Timberwolves back into the state title game. At NHS, the Tigers are looking to several promising newcomers to the squad as they try to take the program to new heights.

The Timberwolves , whocame up just short of upsetting Owasso in the state title game a season ago, return starting pitchers Brad Kinsey and Austin Cranford, both of whom were instrumental in the team’s run a season ago. North also has back middle reliever Brandon Johnson.

It’s a trio that coach Brian Aylor said has the talent and experience necessary to lead North on another deep play off run.

“I expect to see great things out of them,” he said. “We have three strong arms there, and a few other guys who gave us some innings last year who can step up.”

The Timberwolves return most of their defense, though they lost a few notable defenders in DJ Gasso and Luke Jones. Nick Basquine, who is going to Oklahoma as a preferred walk-on for the football team, will play one more season of baseball and move from right field to center to fill the gap left by Jones. The T-Wolves also return a handful of other position starters and welcome a pair of newcomers sure to make an impact.

That would be Thomas and Hal Hughes, sons of new Oklahoma baseball coach Pete Hughes. Thomas is a junior who will start at shortstop while his freshman brother Hal will start at third. Thomas also will give the T-Wolves some innings on the mound.

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