NEW ORLEANS – A fourth consecutive trip to the JUCO World Series will have to go through Missouri for Delgado Community College’s baseball team.
The Dolphins depart for Neosho, Missouri, on Wednesday for the NJCAA South Central District tournament, where it will face a pair of nationally ranked clubs on Friday – No. 2-ranked and host Crowder College and 12th-ranked Seminole State College.
For the Delgado players, it will be their first trip to the Show-Me state, but for Dolphins coach Joe Scheuermann, there will be a bit of familiarity.
That’s because when Delgado started its current streak of World Series trips three years ago this week, it was in Neosho, and the opponents were Crowder and Seminole.
“Both of these clubs are very powerful,” Scheuermann said. “They’re both very good offensive teams. It looks like we’ll have to outslug ‘em, to be honest.”
Delgado (33-16) earned the right to advance to the district tournament – JUCO’s baseball equivalent of a super regional – by rallying to win the final three games of its best-of-seven series against Baton Rouge Community College May 6-7.
“We had our backs against the wall,” Scheuermann said. “You have to tip your cap to our kids. They fought their way through it.
“Our program has reached the point where our expectations are starting to carry us. Our kids just refused to lose.”
Crowder is 49-11 and winners of 10 of its last 11 games. The Roughriders captured the Region XVI tournament last weekend in Joplin, Missouri.
Connors State is 41-15 after sweeping four games in the Region II tournament last weekend in Woodward, Oklahoma. Along the way, the Trojans scored 50 runs, including 15 in the eighth inning of the championship game against Arkansas Baptist.
A year ago, the South Central District tournament was played at Kirsch-Rooney Stadium, with the Dolphins sweeping three games against Maple Woods (Mo.) and Eastern Oklahoma to advance to Grand Junction, Colorado – JUCO’s version of Omaha – for the third straight year.
“The one plus that we have going for us – we’re the only club that was in this (tournament) last year,” Scheuermann said. “I think that’s going to help.”
In the three-team format, the first day is a round-robin with each club playing a doubleheader. Delgado will meet Connors State in the 1 p.m. opener on Friday before facing Crowder at 4 p.m. Crowder and Connors meet in the opening-day finale at 7 p.m.
The rest of the weekend bracket will be determined by the first day’s results. If one team goes 2-0 on Friday, it is in the driver’s seat and needs to win one game to advance to the World Series. If all three teams are 1-1 after the first day, the tournament becomes single-elimination and a coin flip determines the team that gets the bye into the final.
Three years ago in Neosho, Delgado won all three games by one run, including a 7-6 victory over Seminole in the deciding game.