Carl Albert State College sophomore Paxton Pitts wasn't necessarily mired in a deep slump back in the fall. It only felt that way.
"I tweaked my back a little bit, so that held me out," Pitts said.
Then, the waiting game.
"At first, you just have to be a good teammate and hope the guy in front of you is doing what he's supposed to be doing, and not get distracted by anything," Pitts said.
Since finding his way into the startling lineup, Pitts carried himself and then some. The versatile Viking can play second or center field, too.
The former Roland, Okla., standout is hitting .388 over his last 15 games. He's had seven multi-hit games during that span.
"I feel like you just have to wait for your opportunity," Pitts said. "Once you get it, don't look back and just keep going."
The 2023 season didn't start out great for Pitts.
He was hitting just .136 over his first seven games (3-for-21).
"Early on, I feel like I was finding everybody," he said. "[But] I didn't get frustrated; I stayed on it and started to find holes, and hopefully keep going."
For the season, Pitts is batting .333 (22-for-66) with a home run and 13 RBIs.
"I don't think I've changed anything," he said. "I feel like I had a tough break at the start of the fall, and it's finally starting to go my way now. I have to use every opportunity I can to do the simple things."
The bigger picture is college baseball, Pitts said.
"It's pretty awesome," he said. "To play college baseball at any level is a very big moment."
The Vikings, who slumped to 7-21 overall and 1-9 in conference play, battles Eastern Oklahoma State on Tuesday.
Perry, UNT moving on
Tylor Perry's go-ahead 3-pointer helped North Texas punch its ticket to Las Vegas.
The Mean Green are one win shy of 30, and two away from a National Invitational Championship.
North Texas (29-7) will face Wisconsin on Tuesday at 6 p.m. in the NIT semifinals.
Perry, a former Spiro, Okla., standout, finished with 23 points as UNT beat Oklahoma State on its home floor for its third straight NIT win.
Earlier, Perry had 21 points in a 69-53 win over Alcorn State and 23 in last week's 75-55 blowout of Sam Houston State.
Perry, the Conference USA Player of the Year, added five boards in the win over OSU, and nailed a deep three with 1:49 left in OT to put North Texas ahead for good.
"What can I say about Tylor Perry," UNT coach Grant McCasland told the school's sports information department. "I mean, what a winner. He's the heart of our team. I thought he willed us to a win and made big baskets."
In addition, Perry became the 25th player in UNT history to score 1,000 career points.
Martin dominating in circle
Former Alma standout McKenzie Martin pitched four strong innings last week during Eastern Oklahoma State College's 14-0 rout of Carl Albert.
Martin, who improved to 8-4 on the season, drove in four runs with a pair of hits. Martin is batting .453 and slugging .736 for the season.
The Lady Mountaineers (13-9) had won five straight games following a nine-game losing streak.
Martin has six doubles, five home runs, and leads the team with 25 RBIs.
Martin went 2-0 with with two doubles and five RBIs during a pair of doubleheader sweeps of Connors State and Carl Albert. Martin leads the team with seven wins and has 54 strikeouts in 68 innings (2.88 earned run average).
She hit two home runs during a 5-4 win over Northern Oklahoma College-Tonkawa on Thursday.
Ross earns first save
Former Charleston standout Brayden Ross worked 3 1/3 innings of relief recently while earning his first save of the season in the Lions' 6-3 win over Texas A&M-Kingsville.
The right-hander struck out two, allowed four hits and two earned runs, and got the final out as the Lions put the brakes on a 12-game losing streak.
Ross has appeared in nine games and struck out 10 hitters in 12 innings of work.
A 2020 graduate of Charleston, Ross earned All-State status in four different sports, including baseball as the Tigers' top pitcher. He was also all-state in basketball, football and golf.
Ross appeared in 10 games for UA-Rich Mountain in 2021, where he collected one save.
Schilling homers for UAFS
Matt Schilling smacked a homer and added a sacrifice fly to help UAFS snap a 12-game losing streak recently against Texas A&M-Kingsville.
Schilling finished 1-for-4 in the Lions' 6-3 victory, the team's first win since Feb. 24.
The Lions star infielder was hitting .322 with 12 doubles, five home runs, and 16 RBIs. UAFS was scheduled to host St. Edward's University this week.
Schilling, the former Southside standout, leads the Lions with a team-high 28 hits. The 2020 Fort Smith Southside grad batted .320 last year at Carl Albert, where he belted 13 homers, scored 42 runs, and drove in 48.
UAFS left-hander Grant Shankle (Alma/Van Buren) pitched 1 1/3 innings of relief to earn his third victory of the season in last week's 6-3 Lions win over Texas A&M-Kingsville. ... Carl Albert freshman Izac Sizemore (Sallisaw) pitched seven strong innings of two-run baseball in the Vikings' loss to Northern Oklahoma College-Tonkawa Thursday. ... Arkansas Tech reliever Kaila Cartwright (Greenwood) picked up her first save of the season with 2 2/3 innings of relief last week during the Golden Suns' 5-0 win over Northwestern Oklahoma.. ... Chloe Ray (Fort Smith Northside) is hitting .333 for UA-Rich Mountain. ... Colton Sagely (Greenwood) hit a long three-run homer during Carl Albert's 9-6 win over Connors State. Sagely is batting .283.