There’s a fight raging inside the Southeastern clubhouse.
The east side of campus is the territory of Mac Sceroler, Taylor Schwaner, Jacob Seward and Nico Cuccia, who base themselves out of a house on Cherry Street.
The west side is controlled by a house on West University Avenue that’s home to Jameson Fisher, Webb Bobo, Daniel Midyett and Gabe Von Rosenberg — better known as “Them boys on West Uni” to their rivals.
Several smaller factions are fighting for power. Even a few players brave it alone. But the houses on Cherry and West University stand out as the primary combatants.
The ultimate prize: A green and gold shovel bought at a hardware store down the road.
Each season, Southeastern coach Matt Riser challenges his upperclassmen to pick a symbol to represent the mentality the team wants to embody.
In 2014, the year Southeastern went to the NCAA regionals, the Lions had a metal chain and added a link for every win to show how they were only as strong as their weakest link.
The 2016 upperclassmen picked a shovel.
“(The shovel) is an outward representation of what we want to do this year,” pitcher Kyle Cedotal said. “We don’t want to win by one; we want to win by 15. We want to bury them.”
Cedotal — who earned the shovel once this season for his complete-game shutout in the season opener — was the primary mind behind the shovel’s inception, though he consulted with several other players before pitching the idea to Riser.
His house on Martens Drive with Sam Roberson and Chris Eades has two shovel victories among them.
Similar to the tradition of awarding a game ball, the Lions coaching staff selects a player after each win who had an exceptional day and gives him the shovel.
It then becomes that player’s responsibility to take care of the shovel until the next game, where he’ll stab the blade into the dirt directly in front of their dugout as a reminder to what it represents.
And even if the Lions aren’t playing their best, they’ve got that covered, too.
“Every club is going to struggle at some point in time. Every individual is going to struggle. But it’s how you handle those failures and how quickly you can recover from them,” Riser said. “It’s got a handle on it that we all hold on to, and when we’re struggling, we dig our way out of it as a team.”
The race to see which house can earn more shovels has developed into an all out battle, complete with trash-talk and one-upmanship.
The house on Cherry Street has a slight lead over its competitors with five shovels, including Sceroler taking home a team-high three shovels this season, as many as the West University house has in all.
But the West University house does have the distinction as being the only house to earn the shovel as a whole. That was after Fisher, Midyett and Bobo went a combined 10-for-12 and nine RBIs and Von Rosenberg struck out five batters in two innings against Alcorn State at the beginning of the season.
“It’s not one of those things where we say, ‘Hey, let’s get the shovel today,’ ” Bobo said. “But when we do, it’s like we did something really good to help the team win, which is what it’s really all about.”
The entire team was awarded a shovel in the finale of its series against Abilene Christian, when the Lions scored six runs in the ninth inning to win 9-7 and complete the sweep.
Riser earned a shovel against Alcorn State two weeks ago after becoming the fastest coach in program history to win 100 games.
Despite the shovel’s popularity, Riser said its place in the clubhouse will end with this season. He wants each team to adopt its own identities.
But just because the shovel won’t become a full tradition at Southeastern doesn’t mean the Lions aren’t enjoying it while it lasts.
“We joke about putting a frame on top of the mantel to hang our shovel up,” Fisher said. “We might as well keep it at our house because we’ve been dominating.”