NEW ORLEANS – Opening Day of the baseball season – or any sport, for that matter – is like Christmas to a child. After a long wait and a great deal of preparation, it’s time to unwrap the presents.
The figurative wrapping paper will be strewn throughout Kirsch-Rooney Stadium on Saturday.
While Division I baseball teams have to wait until next weekend, the area’s newest postseason staple, Delgado Community College, opens the 2017 season with a 1 p.m. doubleheader against Bishop State (Alabama).
Coach Joe Scheuermann has taken his Dolphins to three consecutive Junior College World Series, and the bar isn’t any lower this season.
“There’s no reason to change those expectations,” Scheuermann said of his club, which is ranked No. 7 nationally in the preseason NJCAA Division I poll. “Hopefully we’ll be able to compete like we have the last three years.
“We’re as talented position-wise as we’ve ever been. Our big question is, can our freshman and first-year pitchers grow up in a hurry.”
The offense will again be led by sophomore center fielder Daniel Lahare. The former Brother Martin standout led Delgado regulars in average (.385), triples (nine), home runs (13) and RBI (52) as a freshman.
Lahare “is as good a player as there is in the state, at the Division I or JUCO level,” Scheuermann said.
Second baseman Brandt Broussard, third baseman Christian Clayton and catcher JP LaGreco also return from last year’s team, which finished 37-16.
The Dolphins’ top arm, Archbishop Shaw graduate Jace Nini, is back and will get the Game 1 start Saturday, but most of the other arms are new.
Nini went 8-5 in 14 starts last year.
Scheuermann is seeking career wins No. 901 and 902 on Saturday.
“It’s the anticipation and expectation,” he said. “We’ve been through fall practices and scrimmages. They’ve gotten some experience there.
But, Scheuermann added, “there’s nothing like the real thing – Opening Day.”