Trojans shift focus toward SBC regionals
After Scott Norwood, head coach of the UALR baseball team, earned his 400th career win April 13 against Louisiana-Lafayette, his team is looking to utilize the momentum to make a push for the SBC Conference Regionals with about twenty games remaining in the season.
UALR begins the stretch run April 19 when it visits Troy for a three-game matchup.
With more than half of the games in the books, Norwood has found both good and bad things about his team’s play this season, but the make-or-break point will be how they finish.
“I think we’ve pitched it really well and we’ve been really consistent on Friday and Saturday,” Norwood said. “I think Blake and Chance have been really outstanding starters for us. Offensively, we’ve been pretty consistent most of the year.”
“We’ve just kind of lacked on finishing a game off or two and that’s, in my opinion, what’s held us back just a little bit,” the coach said. “We need to just finish off some games. We’ve had leads and let them slip away, and that’s just maybe staying focused a little bit longer in a game, which I think we’ll do,” he said.
While there has been inconsistent play for the Trojans, there have been several bright spots, including shortstop Austin Pfeiffer being named the SBC Player of the Week on April 1.
The junior marketing major agreed with Norwood on the importance of finishing the season strongly.
“I feel like this is a pivotal part of the season now,” he said. “We need to finish strong so we can have a good seed in the conference tournament.”
Pfeiffer is batting .343 so far this season and leads the team and conference with 12 stolen bases.
Pfeiffer learned that he was named the Player of the Week while having lunch with a friend.
“[My friend] saw it on Twitter or Instagram or something and told me congratulations,” Pfeiffer said.
Catcher Blake Johnson, a senior history major, is batting .356 through 31 games, leading the team and garnering national attention.
Johnson was placed on the Johnny Bench Award watch list, which monitors elite NCAA catchers on On March 11.
After finding out about the honor, Johnson did a little research.
“I had no idea what it was. I looked it up on the Internet and read about it. I thought it was pretty cool,” he said.
Despite a slow start for the team, early season goals are still in place for the Trojans.
“One of our goals at the beginning of the year was to try to be the best team that’s ever played here. [We will] try to pick it up in the next half of the season, see if we can do that,” Johnson said.
Norwood said his team is poised to make a push during the next few weeks, as he points to expectations that were set before the season started.
“You never accept losing; you just acknowledge it and move on,” Norwood said. “We’re getting better. We just have to keep getting better every day.”
He remembers a time — not so long ago — when expectations were a little different.
“From where we were five years ago to now, it’s amazing how goals have changed. It used to be just about winning games and now it’s expecting to win games,” Norwood said. “And now we just need to finish off games.”