FAIRBURY, NE – Fairbury senior Delaney Miller officially signed to play softball at Cloud County Community College on Tuesday morning.
Much like she is in the pitchers’ circle, Miller was relaxed and excited.
“It’s great knowing I already have it set,” Miller said. “I’m good to go for next year.”
Miller was one of the best pitchers in Jeffs history, ending her four-year career with 371 strikeouts and a 45-22 record as a starter.
“It’s always really gratifying to see your athletes go on to play at the next level,” Fairbury head softball coach Taylor Biehl said. “Not everybody gets the opportunity to go on and do that. It’s really fun to see one of your athletes take their love of softball to the next level.”
As a senior, Miller finished with a 12-4 record, a 3.94 ERA, 77 strikeouts and 28 walks. She also batted for a .261 average in 28 plate appearances, tallying six hits and five RBIs.
Those efforts earned her honorable mention all-state accolades from the Lincoln Journal Star in late October.
“She definitely was an integral part of our success the last four years,” Biehl said. “She helped continue and bring back the tradition of winning for Fairbury softball. It’s always tough to lose a good pitcher, though. It does take a lot of extra time and a lot of extra work that people just don’t understand. Her presence out there will definitely be missed.”
Miller plans to major in athletic training, and after two years, transfer to either Fort Hayes State or Wichita State.
For those first two years, though, Miller is looking to forward to working in the Thunderbirds’ facilities and working with head coach Aaron Acree, who’s been the head of the Cloud County softball program for 17 years.
“He’s really nice,” Miller said. “He’s very open. Their facilities are very nice, too.”
Cloud County finished the 2018 season at 21-22. The T-Birds are 173-161 under Acree’s tutelage, including a 28-13 finish in 2016.
The Cloud County Softball Field is one of the better facilities in junior college softball, and it’s had a lot of work done in recent years.
A press box was added in 2007. An irrigation system with 26 sprinkler heads was added in 2011. Coach Acree planted trees behind the outfield fence in 2012, and most recently, a concrete walkway was installed with steps leading down to the field. The park measures 210 feet to left, right, and center field.
Back in Fairbury, The Jeffs softball team finished 23-10 in 2018 and were district runners-up for the second consecutive season. Fairbury also made the jump from Class C to Class B in 2018, losing in the district final to then-defending state champion Crete, 11-3.
It’s not the finish Miller, Coach Biehl or anyone in Fairbury hoped for. However, Miller’s dominance in the circle helped lay the foundation for a Jeffs team with a bright future. A team that’s had three straight winning seasons, and back-to-back 20-win seasons.
“It was great knowing we could go in, going into Class B (and compete),” Miller said. “We did what we needed to do, we got it done. It just didn’t turn out like we hoped.”
Hear the full conversation with Delaney and Coach Biehl here:
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