NORMAN — Edmond is 31 miles away from Norman North. Up until today, that’s as far as the T-Wolves’ senior class has traveled for an early season tournament. That is, until coach Brian Aylor changed things up this year.
Pensacola, Fla., is 834 miles away from North. That’s where the T-Wolves will play today, after Aylor decided to take the team to the Aggie Classic, an annual baseball tournament pitting 22 teams from across the country against each other in a highly-watched tournament.
North opens play at 7 p.m. tonight and is guaranteed at least three games. For Aylor, the decision to take his team across the country to play was easy.
“It’s something I like to do at the beginning of the season to get the kids out of their normal routine,” he said. “They get to take a trip where it’s just the team together, and any time you travel it’s a great opportunity for the team to bond. That’s really good for them to build some camaraderie and team chemistry.”
Chemistry issues aren’t the only benefits of traveling for the Timberwolves.
“It’s also an opportunity for them to be seen by more colleges,” Aylor said. “There will be college scouts out there who will get a chance to see them play.”
While Aylor typically tries to take the team on the road every year, scheduling issues and weather problems have limited the number of such trips the T-Wolves have made in recent years.
“We haven’t gone very far since I’ve been here,” senior pitcher DJ Gasso said. “It will be cool to get to go down there and play.”
While the location may be unfamiliar, some of the faces the T-Wolves will see at the tournament won’t be. A handful of teams from Oklahoma, including Westmoore and Edmond North, are competing.
After squeezing out a pair of one-run victories over Norman High (3-3) early last week, North (5-2) is coming off a 4-2 loss to Midwest City on Friday. The T-Wolves hope to use the tournament to build momentum heading into a pair of district games with Lawton (5-4) next week.
While Aylor said there is plenty of room for improvement, North is 4-0 in district play, the only record that is used to determine regional seedings.
“Some of the mistakes we’ve made haven’t been characteristic of us as a team,” Aylor said. “But the most important thing is that we keep winning district games.
“Our goal every year is to host and win a regional, which is something this team can do if we continue improving.”
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