Coaches at Norman North spent most of the season telling the Timberwolves to forget about last year. To forget about the late-season collapse where North lost seven of its last eight games to not only fall out of first place in the district and lose the chance at hosting a regional, but also an early exit from the regional tournament after winning just one game.
But that didn’t mean the T-Wolves didn’t think about it.
“Sports are very psychological,” coach Brian Aylor said. “No matter what we tell them it’s still in the back of their minds.”
So when the Timberwolves faced off against Westmoore last week with the district title on the line, memories of last season’s district finale against the Jaguars weren’t far from anyone’s mind. And they were especially close after the Jags stormed back to tie the game at three runs apiece in the fifth inning.
But this time the Timberwolves met the challenge, won the game, the district and the right to host the regional tournament, beginning at 11 a.m. today against Lawton Eisenhower, as a reward. But the T-Wolves, who are eyeing a state championship as the ultimate goal, said they aren’t satisfied.
“That game was a big hurdle for us,” Aylor said. “For them to win that game and beat a quality team like Westmoore, that was great for us. We’re going into the regional with positive momentum. This senior class has done a really good job of focusing on the moment and not looking too far ahead. They have big plans ahead of them, but they’re focusing on right now.”
The schedule for the regional was moved up a day due to expected storms on Thursday. After four games today, officials expect Thursday’s games to be rained out before using Friday and Saturday to finish out the bracket and advance a team to the state tournament. Also competing in the region is Southmoore and Midwest City.
While North will try to advance to state from its home field, Norman High is taking to the road, where the Tigers will meet Yukon at 11 a.m. today in the first round. With a number of starters still out with injury, coach Pete Sangirardi said his team is using the week of practice to make sure they’re ready to go with the pieces they do have.
“We have the guys we have and we’re going to be careful about bringing anyone back who hasn’t been out there in a month,” he said. “We’re working to all be on the same page with the guys we have when we head up there.”
The Tigers have fought to stay above .500 all year long. Sangirardi said the team has come a long way from a season ago in his first year at the helm, and they are looking for a playoff run to show for it. NHS has won six of its last 10 games and has averaged more than 10 runs in each of those wins, while scoring just 16 combined runs in the four losses.
“We’ve been playing well at times, but we’re having trouble hitting,” Sangirardi said. “So we need to keep playing like we have, but the sticks need to show up a little bit more.”
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