Delgado opens district tournament play Friday in Missouri
NEW ORLEANS – Three wins away from the Junior College World Series on the weekend before Memorial Day is a familiar position for Delgado’s baseball team.
After earning their 10th consecutive Region 23 title last weekend, the Dolphins are in Joplin, Missouri, for the NJCAA South Central District tournament beginning Friday at Joe Becker Stadium.
Delgado (35-12), which just missed entering the top 20 in this week’s NJCAA Division I poll, plays 19th-ranked Connors State (Oklahoma) at noon in the opening game at noon Friday. Connors (44-11) faces host and 10th-ranked Crowder College at 3 p.m., with Delgado and Crowder (47-14) meeting in the 6 p.m. nightcap.
The three-team, double-elimination format is identical to what the Dolphins faced last weekend at Tulane’s Greer Field at Turchin Stadium, when they swept past Region 23 foes Baton Rouge and Nunez to earn their trip to Missouri.
“I think that’s a big help,” Delgado coach Joe Scheuermann said. “In the past, we’ve had to go straight to the (three-team) format (in the district tournament). It’s kind of … a dress rehearsal.”
Delgado hits .296 as a team, led by designated hitter Ross Scelfo at .408. Third baseman Grant Schulz is second on the club at .346 with a team-high 46 RBI, while catcher Tyler McManus leads the Dolphins with eight home runs.
The Dolphins could get a boost from the possible return of Connor Feustle in a limited role this weekend. Feustle, who was Delgado’s leadoff hitter and center fielder before an injury, has been out since mid-April. He is the team’s third-leading hitter at .316.
Starting pitchers Mason Mayfield (3-1, 2.27), Daniel Dugas (6-4, 4.41) and Payton Russell (5-2, 4.12) each worked at least six innings and allowed no more than two runs last weekend. Closer Dwain Varisco picked up a pair of saves.
The Dolphin pitching staff will be tested by a pair of outstanding offenses. Crowder hits .319 as a team and averages 8.1 runs per game, while Connors has a .330 team average and scores 9.2 runs per game.
While Scheuermann thinks his team’s strengths are pitching and defense, his team isn’t reliant on just winning one way.
“One thing I like about our club is we find a way to win,” Scheuermann said. “We don’t always hit the ball, but somehow, we find a way to win. That’s what good teams do.”
Delgado is seeking its sixth trip to the Junior College World Series and fifth under Scheuermann, including consecutive trips in 2014-15-16.
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Lenny has been involved in college athletics since the early 1980s, when he began working Tulane University sporting events while still attending Archbishop Rummel High School. He continued that relationship as a student at Loyola University, where he graduated in 1987. For the next 11 years, Vangilder worked in the sports information offices at Southwestern Louisiana (now UL-Lafayette) and Tulane;…