Making younger players understand the connections between baseball and life is something one would think a seasoned coach or a longtime observer of the game would lecture about or encourage youngsters to recognize. Tristen Odham, an uncommitted 2022 outfielder out of Ashley High School in Wilmington, NC, surely wouldn’t interrupt that message, but he clearly gets it already.
Odham, who bats and throws right-handed, can in fact sound somewhat sage himself when talking about the ways in which life lessons are found so prominently within baseball. In discussing both his play on the diamond, and his goals beyond the game he simply and powerfully stated his view, “Be the best I can be.”
Having just the fall of 2019 under his belt as a Dirtbag, he has already seen this same theme being promoted in the organization. He shared that once he got to know everyone on his team, he quickly recognized that being a Dirtbag meant way more than baseball. Odham says he learned the Bags are “built around character.”
This is clearly important to Tristen and he sees the value of the Bags pouring into not only his skill development as a player, but also his personal foundation. He commented, “Baseball is life. In both you need dedication and the ability to do what’s needed.”
In terms of baseball skills, Odham shows the ability to perform at a high level in a number of ways. His offensive game will many times find him in the lead-off spot where he consistently puts the ball in play hard, and then uses his speed to put pressure on his opponent with smart, but aggressive baserunning.
As a defender, his knowledge of the game shows up as an asset that allows him to combine his strong arm and athleticism into making plays off great reads and anticipation.
Upon being assigned to Ben Cassillo’s club for the 2019 fall, he made a quick and meaningful impression on his skipper when it came to his impact on a game.
“Tristen is the epitome of a spark plug. Once on base, he used his incredible speed to make the game faster for his opponents and cause them to make mistakes. Anything from fielding routine ground balls to cutting a ball off quickly in the outfield becomes a problem because of Tristen’s speed and high IQ on the bases,” said Cassillo.
Noting his production at the plate Cassillo added, “He has surprising strength, which combined with a compact swing, produces gap to gap power.”
According to Odham, his performances were enhanced by the level of play he saw in his fellow Dirtbags, in addition to the high caliber of teams they routinely faced. He noted such competition serves as a driving force for him.
And it became obvious to Cassillo who stated, “Tristen competes every single pitch.”
But Tristen was quick to note he also saw himself grow from his experiences this past fall. And not just from the tips Cassillo provided on hitting, but most notably in his own character.
Odham said, “The character is built by being put in a direction and (the Dirtbags) wouldn’t let me veer off and go the wrong way.”
To Odham his time with the Bags thus far has provided him a connection with teammates he cherishes and finds tremendous value in, both personally and corporately. He sees the competition within the team in positive fashion because it drives everyone; never causing animosity or jealousy when another Dirtbag has a great day.
“It makes you work harder, but also pull for one another,” says Odham.
Clearly, his teammates reciprocate the respect, as seen from Cassillo’s remark about Tristen joining the club, “He’ll put his body on the line to take away hits from the opponents, and that’s something that quickly endeared him to our pitching staff and the entire team.”
Another attribute Odham brings to the table in baseball that can also serve him in life is his versatility. Though an outfielder by trade, he can and has easily been able to make moves into the infield and even on the mound to serve his team.
On the mound, Tristen’s control and savvy make him a valuable asset for his team as a reliever or closer. His ability to locate off-speed pitches like his changeup or multiple breaking balls, only accentuates the effectiveness of the fastball.
And just when it looks like the list is complete on how Odham can serve his team, know that he has also found his way to either of the middle infield spots and not been overmatched. In fact, none of the aforementioned responsibilities seem to be foreign or even slightly overmatching for Tristen. The versatility is definitely wide ranging.
Odham looks to take all of those skills to the field this spring for his Ashley Eagles. He is excited to be a part of a program that routinely shows up in the conference and in the play-offs. He says 2020 should be no different and are hoping to make an extended run.
As the 2020 campaign transitions to the summer and beyond, he has a lot of confidence in both himself and his Dirtbags teammates to excel in tournaments and inevitably garner the attention of college coaches out evaluating to find recruitable players that fit their programs.
With the recruiting scene just beginning for the sophomore, Tristen is aware the 2020 seasons could be huge for his performances to attract the type of programs that he aspires to join. Schools that he is interested in learning more about are currently regional and mainly in the Carolinas.
At this point, Odham has found attending camps with college coaches in attendance or even on college campuses to be beneficial. Not only do those experiences provide exposure, but according to Tristen, it gives him first-hand knowledge to see what those coaches are looking for in a player.
Any school to be considered with need to have strong academic offerings to match his 4.3 GPA. While Odham isn’t sure what he’d like to study, a run through on potential vocations to pursue post-baseball all required extensive college degrees.
That means Tristen’s goals not only involve furthering his academic and athletic pursuits at preeminent baseball program, but the destination also needs to be a prestigious university of high standards. One could say that Odham is looking for a college fit that has just as much versatility has he does.