Nate Soulis leads Thompson to baseball state title at home

Jun. 5—JAMESTOWN — Every state title means a lot to the people associated with the team that wins it, but the Thompson Class B Baseball State Tournament title had an extra meaning for head coach Nate Soulis.

"It meant a lot," Soulis said. "I spent many days and hours playing at the field when I was in high school, spending time there with my teammates and friends. I worked there a little bit too with Tom Gould and Danny Fischer, Paul Hanson. That was a big deal for me. I wanted to win regardless but to win at that field was very memorable and obviously to do it in your hometown, friends and family there, it was fun to celebrate with them after and do that at Jack Brown (Stadium)."

The Jamestown native said leading his Tommies squad to their third consecutive title ranks atop the list of his favorite memories at Jack Brown Stadium. Soulis said outside of just getting to do it at his hometown field, the way they won the game and who they did it against also made the win memorable.

"It was a cool situation that we were in, playing a tight game," Soulis said. "I played college baseball with all four of Grafton's coaches and they are tremendous friends of mine. I have a very high level of respect for those guys. ... There's a lot of emotions that go with it, with winning a game like that and beating a good quality Grafton team that has had a really good group come up and change the trajectory of their program. .... It was super fun and a well-deserved championship for sure."

The Tommies got a 4-3 win over Grafton in the state championship game on June 1.

Despite his team heading into the game with a 29-1 overall record and having won the previous two state titles, Soulis said he never felt his team struggling to deal with the pressure. Soulis said the team has figured out how to pitch well and play good defense throughout the three state title seasons. In this year's state tournament, the Tommies outscored their opponents 24-3 and their pitchers only gave up 13 total hits.

"Obviously we have the offensive approach where we were able to hit and score a lot of runs and while that's great the coaching side of me loves pitching, throwing strikes and making plays on defense," Soulis said. "We did a really good job of that in the state tournament."

Soulis played baseball at Valley City State University from 2015 to 2019. Soulis is in his fourth year with the Tommies, having started in the 2020-21 season, which means the four seniors on the team entered into the program with him.

"I think it does (mean a lot)," Soulis said. "We talked about wanting to send the seniors out on the right note and given them their last game as a Tommie end in a win and ultimately a third championship. You could tell once the season was winding down that they knew that their time with school ball at least was starting to come to an end. I thought you saw a little bit more of a pep in their step. They soaked it all in, they tried to do their best to help the team, help each other. Ultimately, it's the leadership that got us to this point and to send them off to ride off into the sunset is pretty cool."

Throughout his four years as the Tommies head coach, Soulis said he has tried to learn from some coaches he played for, including Tom Gould and Cory Anderson. He also said that he has learned from Thompson athletic director Brady Schwab.

"Obviously, you have to think about drills and how to improve swings and you get feedback from them that way and you always ask them questions," Soulis said. "I still talk to both of them and they've been tremendous for me to lean on. I get up here and the great coaches that we have, bouncing questions off of them and really just trying to learn."

One of the many people on the field celebrating the Tommies' win is somebody who knows a thing or two about coaching — Soulis' father, Mike, who is the head coach of the Jamestown High School softball team.

"I talk to him more about how to run a program, how to make specific decisions, how to communicate those decisions to individuals," Nate Soulis said. "Is this the right decision? Trying to get his perspective. He tries to do his best to follow along the season but ultimately he doesn't know the kids all that well. So he can give me a good unbiased perspective of what's the right thing and ultimately it's about ... the team. I bounce program ideas off of him."

After the game on June 1, Soulis only has a few days off before his Thompson Post 181 American Legion Baseball team starts up on June 6. Last summer, Soulis and the Tommies won the 2023 State B American Legion State Title.

"We're on about a week break here," Soulis said with a slight chuckle. "We've got our first game on Thursday. I told the kids I don't want to see you until Thursday, I'll have the jerseys in the dugout. Ultimately it's about soaking up the experiences that we had this last weekend, cherishing that. It's not easy to win state championships and I never want them to feel that like it is, or to be complacent. I want them to be hungry for the next one and that's ultimately what we're gonna try to do, win another Legion championship."