Delgado is counting on its army of arms to give it a leg up as it tries to reach the Junior College World Series.
The Dolphins (34-15), who last week won their 12th NJCAA Region 23 championship in 13 seasons, are participating in the South Central District Championship this weekend. The winner of the tournament, which runs Friday through Sunday, will advance to the World Series.
“I really like our depth on the mound,” said coach Joe Scheuermann, in his 27th season as Delgado coach. “We've got good pitching, a lot of good arms. We're seven or eight deep on the mound, which is something we've never had.”
The Dolphins open the three-team tournament in Seminole, Okla., at 1 p.m. Friday against Jefferson (Mo.) College (50-9), which is ranked eighth in the national junior college coaches poll. In a format in which teams play first-day doubleheaders, Delgado, the first team outside of the top 20 in the poll, will meet 17th-ranked and host Seminole State (44-10) at 7.
The Dolphins were eliminated last year in the South Central after reaching three consecutive JCWS tournaments.
“I like that we are playing in the first and third games,” Scheuermann said. “So we know what we have to do in Game 3, whether we are in the driver's seat or in a do-or-die situation. That is very advantageous to us.”
Scheuermann said left-hander Cole Martin likely will start against Jefferson. Martin, who pitched 50 innings this season, is 3-1 with a 1.62 ERA, which is 10th in the nation.
Chris Turpin (4-2), 4.20 ERA, has been tabbed for the second game, and Mason Mayfield (8-0, 3.49 ERA) and Sean Bretz (6-1, 3.00) also are expected to play big roles.
Martin said “five or six” Delgado pitchers are legitimate starters. The Dolphins might need all of them.
Jefferson, with four players who transferred from Division I programs, is 13th in the nation in batting (.350) and has 70 home runs. It is led by Joey Polak, who leads the nation with 27 home runs and is second in RBIs with 92. The Vikings are in their seventh consecutive district tournament, which is equivalent to the NCAA's super regionals.
Host Seminole State has five players who signed to play at Division I schools next year. The Trojans are second nationally with a .399 batting average and are eighth in home runs, with 93. Outfielder Deshawn Lookout is third in the nation in batting (.474), and Gunner Halter has 20 home runs and Dalton Reed 18.
Degaldo hit 26 but plays in spacious Kirsch-Rooney Stadium.
“Jefferson and Seminole are junior college perennial powers,” Scheuermann said. “But the ballparks they play in have a lot to do with (their home run totals). Seminole plays in a relatively small ballpark, and that's the park where we will be playing.
“Whether the wind is blowing in or blowing out is the key there.”
Delgado teams always have been known for swinging the bats. This season, five Dolphins are batting .346 or better. Brandon Briuglio, a freshman from Jesuit High School, leads with a .394 average. Sophomore catcher Blay Way, from Northshore High in Slidell, is next at .382. Freshman Brandon Duhon, who prepped at Acadiana, is batting .361, followed by former Holy Cross player Grant Schulz (.359) and Ross Scelfo, a freshman from Baton Rouge St. Michael, at .346.
“Those guys will have to produce,” Scheuermann said. “We are strong on the mound and adequate defensively. Our top four or five guys can swing it a little bit, but everybody's top guys in junior college can swing the bats.”