Southeastern softball coach Randy Delaney is in his 32nd season leading the Trojans. FILE PHOTO

Southeastern off to fast start, seeking first league title since 2003

The Trojans are 7-0 and 3-0 in the Ohio Heritage Conference South Division early in the season, including a key division victory over Greenon on March 28.

It’s their best start in three years, said longtime Southeastern coach Randy “Tojo” Delaney.

Run production has been key to the Trojans’ success so far, Delaney said. They’re outscoring opponents 99-15 through Thursday’s 15-1 victory over Dayton Stivers.

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“We’ve had a lot of big hitters as a team,” Delaney said.

Junior Avery Shepherd is hitting .833 with three home runs and 12 RBIs, while sophomore Autumn Jones is hitting .591 with six HRs and 26 RBIs. Freshman Maris Cordial (.625) and Taylor Lewis (.500) and the squad’s lone senior Rylee Harrington (.455, 14 RBIs) have also put up big numbers this spring.

Sophomore Shelby Grim and Shepherd were expected to be the team’s pitching duo, but at the beginning of practice, Delaney discovered he had four pitchers. Lewis and freshman Macy Blankenship may also take the hill for the Trojans. Through six games, Southeastern had used all four pitchers this season.

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Defensively, the Trojans are flanked by Jones at third base, Shepherd at shortstop, Lewis at second base and junior Alyssa Lambert at first base.

“Our infield play is a big part of our team,” Delaney said.

Last year, the Trojans finished 12-10, one game back of league champion Greenon. Southeastern is seeking its first OHC title since 2003.

“We’ve got to continue what we’re doing offensively and our pitching has to keep improving,” Delaney said. “We have to improve day in, day out and hope that when it comes down to the crucial games, you’re ready to go.”

The Trojans will finish their first round against the South Division on Monday against Greeneview. They’ll play at Greenon on April 23.

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In the OHC, every game against conference foes count in the standings, meaning each game is equally important. The key to the league race will likely be games against the North Division, which includes Mechanicsburg (3-1), Triad (3-1) and West Liberty-Salem (4-3). Both Mechanicsburg and West Liberty-Salem advanced to the regional semifinals last season.

“All of those crossovers are going to be tough for us,” Delaney said.

The Trojans also have had consistency in its coaching staff, he said. Assistant Amber Price has been at Southeastern for 14 years, while former Trojans pitcher Becca Carpenter joined the staff last year.

In 32 years as head coach, Delaney’s program has had a junior varsity team just one year, he said. With 17 players, the Trojans are able to play JV games for first time in years using a few varsity players, he said.

“It can only be beneficial down the road,” Delaney said.

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