Norwood provides offensive spark for Pirates
Published 9:40 am Tuesday, April 1, 2003
John Swartz, Sports Correspondent
GREENVILLE -- In the perfect one-two punch combination, you'd be lucky to see it coming, but the East Carolina Pirates' baseball team doesn't try to hide its. Opponents have to rely on everything they've got to stop it.
ECU's Darryl Lawhorn had an amazing season last year. But what the Pirates lacked was a player to bat near him to ensure that the opposing pitchers gave Lawhorn pitches to look at. That's where Ryan Norwood comes in handy.
For all but three games, Norwood and Lawhorn have batted right behind each other. In most cases, Lawhorn bats third while Norwood bats fourth. Collectively, they make up the one-two punch that can send a deadly blow to thwart any opponent.
With Lawhorn's success as a freshman last year, teams just don't want to pitch to him. Last season, Lawhorn was intentionally walked six times. This season, he has been walked intentionally five times already.
That's why Norwood is so important to the Pirates' success as a team. He not only provides his powerful swing, but he gives the opposition something extra to think about when the two sluggers are due up in an inning.
Production has not been a problem thus far for the first baseman. Norwood's 24 runs batted in are the most on the team, and his seven home runs are good enough for second -- behind only Lawhorn's eight.
At a glance, Lawhorn's and Norwood's batting totals are nearly identical. Both are batting over .300, they are separated by two in total hits and only one in home runs and runs batted in. But, are those close stats the making of an intra-squad rivalry?
Pirate fans may only be just now witnessing the offensive power that Norwood is capable. After going through surgery after an injury in his senior year at Varina High School, Norwood was limited to 12 starts in just 20 games last season. But this season, Norwood has sent several balls to Pirate fans by way of the "Jungle" express.
How much does Norwood love the "Jungle" at Harrington Field?
Six of his seven home runs have sailed over the left field wall. But landing a ball on Charles Blvd., the street adjacent to Harrington Field, would take an incredible amount of power. If anyone can do it, Mazey's pick would be Norwood.
Norwood is quick to credit his teammates with his success at the plate.
Getting good pitches are one thing, the opponent could walk up to him and put the ball on a tee, Norwood still has to put it into play. That's a task that Norwood seems well equipped to handle.
So, if you see the lights on at Harrington Field and you're driving on Charles Blvd., watch out for flying baseballs. If a ball crashes through your windshield, contact Norwood, courtesy of the East Carolina Athletic Department. Maybe he'll sign it for you.