09/20/04 — Norman brings back championship ring

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Norman brings back championship ring

By David Williams
Published in Sports on September 20, 2004 1:55 PM

Eugene Norman will soon be able to look at his ring finger and remind himself that he can be called something no one else at Goldsboro High School can claim to be -- a baseball champion.

Norman was in Kissimmee, Florida last month, taking part in the Blue-Grey Battle of the states II baseball tournament, where his Mid-Atlantic team knocked off nine other regional teams from around the country to win the tournament.

Eugene Norman

Eugene Norman

The Goldsboro High School senior had a big part in the victory, playing two defensive positions in the six games and hitting .389 for the tournament.

For winning the tournament, Norman will be sent a championship ring.

The invitation-only tournament was held at the Houston Astros training facility in Kissimmee and was for 17-19-year old high school players.

Norman was nominated for the tournament by Goldsboro High School baseball coach Danny Merritt. Norman attended tryouts and showcase classics at Guilford College, where scout Gus Bell picked him for the Mid-Atlantic team.

It was quite a departure for Norman, who had not gotten the chance to play at that skill level before.

"No one had any idea of who could do what," said Norman. "Coach Brandon Locks was our coach, and he got us into order."

In the tournament Norman started at shortstop, then moved to second base. After a slow start at the plate, Norman ended up hitting 7-for-18 for the tournament -- against pitchers he had never seen before.

"They were all like facing Aycock," Norman said. "Some guys threw in the 90s, but most threw in the mid-80s. The competition was really good."

The players were also timed in the 60-yard dash, and Norman ran a respectable 7.5 seconds. Scouts were on hand, and Norman said he was told he would be watched in his development.

Norman said that faring so well in such a competitive and highly-skilled environment gave him a lot of confidence in his own game.

"I feel like I can go out and not second-guess my talent," Norman said. "We just had fun and worked as a team."

The officials want Norman to come back for Battle of the States III, with teams from different countries of the world. But Norman said it would take too much time away from school.

For now, Norman runs for the Goldsboro High cross-country team and works out at a local gym with a trainer. He also gets extra sessions with Merritt to continue to improve his skills.