Perhaps the North Little Rock Charging Wildcats are finally getting on the right track.
After struggling the past couple of weeks, the Wildcats (10-8, 5-3 6A/7A-South) soundly defeated Searcy in a doubleheader last week, 7-2 and 11-3. The victories were important if North Little Rock is to make the 7A state tournament as points are accumulated by wins and other criteria.
"I challenged our seniors to play differently on the road than we have been," North Little Rock Coach Randy Sandefur said. "After Jonesboro, I stressed to the seniors and held them accountable, and we’ve had better practices."
Two weeks ago, the Wildcats lost a doubleheader at Jonesboro. At the time, the losses put North Little Rock in a perilous situation of making the state tournament. This week, the possibility is better, but as Sandefur said scenarios change week to week. Last night, the Charging Wildcats hosted Marion in a doubleheader. Though the Wildcats are in second place in the conference, that is not his worry right now.
"We are one game behind Central (Little Rock), but the only thing we are looking at right now is getting to state," Sandefur said. "It starts with Marion, and we have to take it pitch by pitch."
In the first contest against Searcy, the Wildcats took a quick 1-0 lead and then fell behind 2-1. Right then, Sandefur confronted his team.
"I asked them if we were going to shrug our shoulders and go away or go out and play," Sandefur said. "We scored four runs off the bat, jumped in, took the lead and never gave it up."
Sandefur said the energy from the first contest carried over to the second game and all the players were involved. He was happy North Little Rock finally played two solid seven inning games. Sandefur praised the pitching of Preston Oberling, Jake Sandefur and Ty Houser. Sandefur, Oberling, Danny Mitchell and Chandler Thompson all hit well, too.
"We did a good job up and down the lineup," Sandefur said. "When you score seven and 11 runs, guys are putting together some hits."
Thursday, North Little Rock hosts Little Rock Catholic and also hosts a freshmen jamboree on Saturday.