THOMPSON, N.D. -- Sibling success put a little added pressure on Clay Odenbach during the North Dakota Class B American Legion baseball tournament last weekend.
Thompson won the state tournament for the third consecutive season, with Odenbach picking up the pitching win in the championship game.
“During the tournament, my mom said to me, ‘You won’t hear the end of it from your brothers if you guys don’t win state, too,’ ‘’ Odenbach said. “They (younger brothers) were giving me a hard time before the tournament, telling me ‘You don’t want to be the one to not get it done.’ ‘’
The Legion championship gave Thompson a sweep of the Class B summer baseball state tournaments.
The Legion team went 5-0 in winning its state tournament.
The Thompson Babe Ruth team went 4-0 at the Class B tournament, including a pair of one-run wins in eight innings, and beat Casselton 7-4 in the title game.
And in the initial Class B Cal Ripken tournament, Thompson was 5-1 and came through the loser-out bracket to beat Burlington twice, 21-12 and 15-0, to win the title.
The Odenbach family was well represented -- Drew played on the Cal Ripken team coached by his father, Matt Odenbach, and Kyle was on the Babe Ruth team in addition to Clay pitching and playing first base on the Legion team.
“It’s pretty unbelievable,’’ said Paul Strande, a member of the Thompson Park Board who helps coordinate youth baseball. “To win all three tournaments, that’s pretty amazing.
“It’s a good baseball culture here.’’
Success in baseball isn’t new at Thompson. The sport has a rich tradition.
Currently, Strande said, success starts with high school coach Brady Schwab.
“If you have any questions about baseball in Thompson, you go to coach Schwab,’’ Strande said. “And we also have good coaches in our summer programs.
“And any coach will tell you he’s only as good as his athletes. The kids work hard. The high school teams won a state football title and a state basketball title (in the 2018-19 school year). There are a lot of good athletes. They almost all play at least two sports. A lot of them play three.’’
There is also continuity in the program. “The coaches are great,’’ Clay Odenbach said. “It’s a lot easier when you keep being taught the same things year after year. It’s the coaches, the parents, the players all a part of it.’’
There will be changes at the top next summer.
Players such as Trey Larimer, Cadyn Schwabe, Josh Sem, Hayden Overby and Nick Reck completed their Legion eligibility this summer.
The team likely will return several players, particularly on the mound where Odenbach, Marcus Hughes, Wade Strande, Jacob Dick and Joe Tweet all threw more than 20 innings this summer.
“It will be a big loss,’’ Legion coach Ryne Dolleslager said of the players in their final season of eligibility. “That’s a big core of our starting lineup and a lot of leadership. But with the development coach Schwab does with the high school program, the team will be in good shape next year.
“With sports, you never know what will happen. But I think Thompson baseball will be strong for many years to come. We have athletes coming up. There’s a passion for the game at every level.’’
Paul Strande also sees that passion and sees it as a big piece to the sport’s future here.
“Nothing is a given, but if the kids keep working hard hopefully we’ll continue getting chances to win state tournaments,’’ Strande said. “There’s talent (on the youth teams). And the indicators are that they’ll work at it.’’
That’s speculating on the future. In the present, Thompson has won a lot of state championship trophies in the past few weeks.
“It’s been a good summer for baseball in Thompson, that’s for sure,’’ Dolleslager said.
Thompson’s title teams
Cal Ripken (age 12-under) -- Isaac Beland, Cash Danner, Gavin Krogstad, Drew Odenbach, Gavin Oster, Karter Peterson, Troy Peterson, Thomas Schumacher, Joe Taylor, Braden Tyce, Jeromy Tyce, Will Welke, Jacob West. Coaches: Matt Odenbach, Doug Taylor, Dave Tyce, Chuck Welke.
Babe Ruth (age 13-15) -- Reece Berberich, Logan Cunningham, Tyler Cunningham, Leo Dearinger, Connor Fields, Jordan Gustafson, Zak Kadrmas, Riley Kornkven, Kyle Odenbach, Shawn O’Hearn, Drew Overby, Zach Peterson, Blake Schultz, Jakob Starcevic, Ryan Strande, Connor Welsh, Brayden Wolfgram. Coaches: Tom Nistler, Cadyn Schwabe.
American Legion -- Jacob Dick, Marcus Hughes, Trey Larimer, Logan Maus, Clay Odenbach, Kadin O’Toole, Hayden Overby, Wyatt Parenteau, Zach Peterson, Nick Reck, Cadyn Schwabe, Josh Sem, Wade Strande, Michael Syrstad, Joe Tweet, Jack Woods. Coaches: Ryne Dolleslager and Tom Nistler.