NORMAN — Norman High didn’t have the smoothest start to its season. The Tigers spent most of the preseason without coach Pete Sangirardi and were trying to rebuild this season.
Both were contributing factors to NHS’ 1-3 start, a stretch in which the Tigers lost all three games by one run, including a pair of narrow losses to Norman North in the Crosstown Clash last week.
But with Sangirardi back at the helm, things began to “get back to normal,” as the second-year coach put it, and the Tigers outscored Putnam City and El Reno 23-4 in two momentum-building victories.
“I like the way they’re coming along,” Sangirardi said. “We’re still improving.”
The Tigers (3-3) now head to Catoosa for a three-day tournament, a four-game stretch that Sangirardi hopes will continue the momentum his team has built. The Tigers hope to make the title game, but after the same tournament being rained out a year ago — part of five games NHS canceled due to the weather — Sangirardi has his sights set a little lower.
“I told them we just wanted to get some games in, whatever happens,” he said. “There are some contingency plans and alternate sites if the fields get too wet, so we’ll see what happens.”
The other benefit the trip offers the Tigers is a chance to come together, something Sangirardi stressed could be the most important thing to come out of the trip back to the area where he spent most of his coaching career before moving to Norman.
“These early spring tournaments are all about getting the coaches and players together in the same place with no school or parents and building that team camaraderie,” he said. “It’s nice that I’ll get to go back and see some friends too, but I also want to show off our players to the east side of the state and let them know about these kids representing Norman.”
One of those players is shortstop Matt Foster, who said while the coaching situation hasn’t been easy, things are starting to fall into place for NHS.
“All of our losses have been by one run, so we know we’re right there,” the senior said. “We’re still trying to figure some things out, but this trip will help us come together and build some team chemistry.”
But for Foster, the trip is not just about the off-field benefits. It’s about the Tigers hitting their stride as they near the midpoint of the season, and Foster likes the way the Tigers are playing.
“We’re coming in hot,” the senior said. “We’ve just got to put the pieces in place, keep it going and get back above .500.”
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