FASTPITCH SOFTBALL: Local teen lands spot on Team USA roster
Baseball has been a constant in Dustin Thompson’s life ever since he can remember.
“My whole family is a bunch of baseball heads,” Thompson said. “I was born into it and played it most my life.”
The 16-year-old Nevada City resident grew up playing in local leagues, making all-star teams and impressing on the diamond whenever and wherever he competed.
While Thompson remains dedicated to baseball and is still a member of the Sacramento Speed Baseball Club team, his passion for playing ball has found a new venue — men’s fastpitch softball.
The diamond is smaller, the pitcher is closer and the game is faster. All those elements drew Thompson to the sport.
“Everything’s a little bit quicker and that’s why I like it,” Thompson said. “Everything’s super fast pace, everything’s bang-bang.”
Thompson started playing with his uncle Donovan Chilton in the Nevada County Fastpitch League and took to the game quickly. Facing men twice his age and more, Thompson batted .400 in the league this past season and helped A-Z Supply win the National League championship in late August.
That started Thompson down a path that would eventually land him on the Team USA 2018 Junior Men’s National Training Team.
Shortly after the local league wrapped up, Thompson was at a tournament in Carson City watching Chilton play, he was approached by Team USA assistant coach Bob Piddock.
Piddock had heard of Thompson’s prowess and ran him through some drills. After seeing what Thompson could do, Piddock extended an invitation to a larger tryout in Florida.
Thompson, along with 37 other fastpitch players 18-and-under, went to the tryout in late December. After several days of evaluations Thompson, who plays shortstop and second base, was one of 17 players to make Team USA’s Junior Men’s Team.
Thompson is now gearing up for several upcoming tournaments with Team USA as they prepare for the Junior Men’s World Championships in Canada in July.
It’s been a whirlwind ride for Thompson, who gave a lot of credit for his spot on Team USA to his uncle as well as competing against the talented players from the local league.
“That helped me a lot. Facing Milly (Mike Milligan) and Bobby (Alvara) and the other big guys,” Thompson said. “I have to thank Donovan. He set me up with this opportunity and I wouldn’t be here without him.”
Chilton said all he did was point his nephew in the right direction.
“He’s just a stud,” Chilton said of Thompson. “It had nothing to do with me. I just know the right people in the programs. All it took was getting him in front of the right people and he did the rest.”
Chilton added that what makes Thompson great is his ability in the field.
“He’s fast, he can move and he’s got great footwork,” he said. “You can’t teach the footwork he has. You can teach everything else, but you can’t teach the natural ability he has.”
The next time Thompson suits up for Team USA will be at tournament in Las Vegas in early April.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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