WEST FARGO — The West Fargo Sheyenne baseball team made history at Veterans Memorial Field in Mandan almost two months ago when the Mustangs downed Fargo Shanley to win the North Dakota Class A state championship — the first state title for the program and any Sheyenne boys team.
Half of the players from that state-championship winning team will return to the same field this week to compete for another crown at the state Legion tournament.
The West Fargo Patriots earned the top seed heading into the North Dakota Class 2A American Legion state baseball tournament, held July 27-31 in Mandan. With half of the roster comprised of recent state champions, the Patriots are hoping history repeats itself.
West Fargo won 14 of its 16 conference games during the regular season and enters the week with a 37-11 overall record. The Patriots open the state Legion tournament against No. 8 seed Mandan at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
“It feels good,” Patriots head coach Jordan Rheault said on the top-seed status. “We just did what we needed to do, and I guess that’s the mentality heading into the state tournament — that we have to execute just like we did in the regular season and get the job done. One game at a time, one pitch at a time.”
The Patriots won’t deviate much from their game plan entering the playoffs. After all, it got them the No. 1 seed.
Relying on a core of seasoned veterans, the team is ready to compete, Rheault said.
“We have a lot of postseason experience,” he added.
West Fargo fell one run short of a state championship last summer, that one under the Senior Babe Ruth banner after American Legion opted not to have a baseball season due to the coronavirus pandemic. With a host of returners back, the Patriots are aiming to get back to the title game and rewrite a new ending.
“Last year we were very successful. Two years ago, we were pretty young,” said Rheault, who is in his fourth year at the helm. “This team reminds me a lot of our team three years ago in that we’re more veteran, which leads to more strength, which can lead to some more power. But they’re also very well-rounded and play defense at a high level.”
The Patriots lost the Class 2A Senior Babe Ruth title to perennial power Fargo Post 2. It was Fargo’s fifth summer title in six seasons.
The Patriots split their doubleheader with Post 2 last Monday. West Fargo bounced back after dropping the first game 3-2 to notch a 10-2 win in Game 2.
Second-seeded Post 2 plays Fargo Post 400 in the first game of the tournament at 10 a.m. Tuesday in Mandan.
The Patriots have been led on the mound by sophomore Casey Clemenson and junior Brennan Haman, who will throw for the Patriots in Game 1 of the state Legion tournament.
“We have Quade Peters and Lance Oster slated in the one and two hole, and they get us started in the right direction,” Rheault said on his experienced cast. “Up the middle we have Drew Clouse as our catcher, and he's also hitting very well. Alex Urlaub is our shortstop and Quade Peters in center. All those names kinda combine forces to make us a tough team to beat.”
Clouse, who redshirted at the University of Sioux Falls last season, is one of three college returners on West Fargo’s roster, along with Mayville State’s Anthony Villanueva and Caleb Jamieson.
The winner of this week's state tournament advances to the Central Plains Regional Tournament in Sioux Falls on Aug. 4-8.
West Fargo last advanced to a Regional in 2018, when Rheault led the Patriots to a Class 2A state Legion title his first year at the helm.