The Southeast Valley baseball program is setting quite a precedent for the school's newly-aligned athletic department.
As the first team to connect Prairie Valley and Southeast Webster-Grand, the Jaguars are 16-6 overall. Last summer, the Eagles and Warriors combined to go 26-34.
Co-head coach Brad Anderson has been encouraged by the seamless transition so far.
—Messenger photo by Britt Kudla
Southeast Valley’s Dakota Jaeschke watches as the ball fly deep in the outfield on Thursday in Farnhamville. For more photos, visit CU at messengernews.net
"Our kids have really gelled and adapted well to each other," said Anderson, who previously directed Southeast Webster-Grand for nine years. "Both teams had the missing pieces to fill in very nicely.
"It was the kids that actually went to the school board and voted yes to (play together). (Co-head coach) Bryan Bachel and I both had signed contracts, and we just went right to work."
Winning five of its first seven games helped Southeast Valley build some confidence and momentum. In their opener back on May 28, the Jaguars blanked East Sac County by a 9-0 count.
"We had a solid first week out of the gate," Anderson said. "I think by winning right away alleviated all that anxiety.
"Beating defending (Twin Lakes Conference) East Sac County really set the tone. One of the biggest things we preached from Day 1 is we are no longer Warriors or Eagles.
"You can't tell when a Prairie Valley kid is throwing to a Southeast Webster kid. The past has brought us together, but we're the Jaguars now and in the future."
Pitching has clearly been a strength for Southeast Valley, which owns a 3.16 team ERA. The Jaguars have managed three shutouts, while holding opponents to a miniscule .209 batting average.
Sophomore Andrew Dorage (4-0; 37 IP, 27 H, 37 K, 1.32 ERA), senior Curt Castenson (3-3; 38 IP, 21 H, 57 K, 1.84 ERA) and sophomore Cameron Anderson (3-0; 15 IP, 10 H, 7 K, 1.87 ERA) are among Southeast Valley's top arms.
"Our pitching has been tough," said Anderson. "I've never had the amount of varsity pitching depth that we have this season."
Castenson (.386 BA, 23 R, 22 H, 22 RBI), freshman Myles Davis (.350 BA, 32 R, 21 H), freshman Dakota Jaeschke (.340 BA, 18 RBI, 16 H), senior Clayton Taylor (.328 BA, 22 RBI, 19 H) and Dorage (.305 BA, 18 H, 16 RBI) are the catalysts in the formidable Jaguar offensive attack, which sports a plus-52 run differential.
As a team, Southeast Valley is batting .272 with 150 hits, 141 runs, 115 RBI, 22 doubles and 10 home runs to go along with 36 stolen bases in 43 attempts.
"We have very good senior leaders in Curt Castenson and Clayton Taylor and a lot of talented younger kids coming up, too," Anderson said. "This team has 12 guys that can play at the varsity level and several others on the cusp.
"We didn't really sit down (before the season), though, and say 15 wins or anything like that. We're just taking it one step at a time."
Southeast Valley has split its home games between Dayton and Farnhamville.
"It's been nice having two diamonds and practice facilities," said Anderson. "If it's wet one place, we can just go to the other. The most difficult thing has been the terminology and small things like signs."
No matter what the rest of this season holds, the future is bright for the Jaguars.
"Our community and parents have been nothing but positive," said Anderson. "Just the fact that they have embraced it means a lot."