Brody Weisenburger helping New Rockford-Sheyenne baseball return to state tourney

May 30—JAMESTOWN — The turnaround of the New Rockford-Sheyenne baseball program is almost complete thanks to Brody Weisenburger and his teammates.

Two years ago, the Black Sox went 3-14 before going 4-9 last year. The squad won the Region 3 tournament this season with a 12-7 record and will be playing in the Class B Baseball State Tournament for the first time since 2000.

"Our biggest expectation is to win state, obviously," Weisenburger said. "It'd be nice to make it past that first round so we could at least get fourth if anything. But, mostly just to win games."

The No. 5-seed Black Sox open their tournament on Thursday, May 30, against No. 4-seed Des Lacs-Burlington at Jack Brown Stadium, with the time still to be determined. Skogen said he is excited for his players to play at Jack Brown Stadium and experience the atmosphere of the state tournament.

"Jack Brown's probably my favorite stadium that I've played at," Weisenburger said. "So it'll be sweet knowing the crowd will be there hyping us up and probably a pretty electric feeling, I'm not gonna lie. (I am) pretty excited to go play Thursday."

During his junior season, Weisenburger is hitting .390 with four doubles, 13 RBIs and eight walks. Defensively, he has 81 putouts and has turned four double plays. Black Sox head coach Dave Skogen said Weisenburger's biggest contributions have come off the field.

Weisenburger said his best skill is his ability to hit the ball.

In the lead up to the state tournament, Skogen said he is hoping that Weisenburger continues improving his swing and making contact. Weisenburger said one of the keys to his team's success in this tournament will be their ability to get off to fast starts.

"He's been vital. He hits in the heart of our lineup, hits in the cleanup spot, has every single game," Skogen said. "Early on this season he really paced our offense from an average wise and from an RBI standpoint. Not only contributions on the field but he's one of our main vocal leaders, helps us get our energy going, energy has been a big part of our season. He's a vocal leader. He's got a great personality, great kid, hardworking kid. He knows how to pick guys up ... He knows how to support his teammates when they need it."

Skogen said Weisenburger moved to first base last season and has gained flexibility through wrestling with Carrington last winter. This season, he is 9-for-23 on balls hit to left field or left-center field, which Skogen said is a product of the way Weisenburger attacks the plate.

"He's got lightning quick hands," Skogen said. "We're working on his lower half, his lower half is getting better which is actually increasing the bat speed in his hands. That's the primary reason why that ball goes to the left side. .... So he's got the ability to go any direction you want to. ... But, he's got such quick hands, there aren't too many guys that can blow a fastball by him."

The Black Sox's run to the final tournament was not a straight line. They lost to LaMoure/Litchville-Marion in the region tournament before beating the Loboes in the next game to book their spot in the state tournament. Over the last 10 games, the Black Sox are 7-3. Skogen said his team has been playing well defensively recently and the team's confidence as a whole is high right now.

Although the Black Sox roster has no state tournament experience, the coaching staff does. Skogen played in the American Legion Baseball state tournament and assistant coach Lucas Weisenburger was on the Black Sox teams that made the state tournaments in 1996 and 1998.

"I was fortunate enough myself to play in the Legion state tournament back in 2000 and I was fortunate enough to win it," Skogen said. "I've talked about that experience, managing emotions. That's gonna be the biggest thing, everyone's gonna be fired up and it isn't even so much the fired-up part that makes me a little bit nervous. But you're gonna hit adversity, you hit adversity in every single game and it's managing and getting through that adversity when you know the stakes are high. So it's talking through that."

Weisenburger is not the only member of his family on the team, as his second cousin, Alex, is also on the squad. Weisenburger said he and his cousin are very close.

"We see each other pretty much every day," Weisenburger said. "We lift with each other, we hang out with each other at home or at school, work together. It's nice to know that we have each other's backs no matter what. I think being so close to those teammates helped us to get where we are and I don't think we would've been in this situation if we weren't so closely together."

In the lead-up to the state tournament, the Black Sox hosted an open practice for the community to come and watch and a subsequent dinner. Weisenburger said he expects around 100 people to make the trip to watch him and his teammates at the state tournament.

"It's an awesome feeling knowing that an entire town has your back through ups and downs throughout a season," Weisenburger said. " .... The team rides on electricity throughout the dugout and the stands. So hopefully it will give us a lot of motive to win games throughout the tournament."