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A Weekend of Softball, Sweat and Shenanigans

The 37th Annual Sam McQuade Sr./Budweiser Charity Softball Tournament was played last weekend in Bismarck-Mandan. For those unfamiliar with this exciting event, it is a men’s and women’s softball tournament that draws around 400 teams from the United States and Canada. It has even featured games between soldiers in Iraq. The tournament is played on 40 diamonds in six complexes and more than 90 umpires are needed for this three-day extravaganza. For many players and the 15,000 or so fans that follow their team, the McQuade tournament is the highlight of the summer.

Being from Bismarck definitely has its advantages during the McQuade. You can sleep in your own bed as opposed to a hotel or camper. More friends and family usually come out to watch and there is always someone you know playing. This being my second McQuade, I was very excited to get out there and play again. My first year was 2010 when I was a pick-up player for a friend’s team. I was a little intimidated at first because I didn’t know a lot of the guys. Eventually my nerves settled and I just played the game like I knew how. That year, surprisingly, we ended up winning the championship in our division (See picture above). It was an awesome experience to win a McQuade championship my first year. I must have done pretty well because the team I played on even asked me to be a permanent part of their squad the next two years!

This year we were out to defend our title despite a two-year layoff. Flooding in Bismarck last year caused tournament officials to limit divisions and teams, leaving us out.  I was a little nervous in our tournament opener this year because it was only my second year playing in the McQuade and I was now a permanent member of the reigning champs. So there were high expectations to say the least. We played phenomenal our first game. Everyone hit the ball really well and we made great defensive plays too! We ended up 10-running our opponent after only five innings. After the game, our whole team got together and tailgated (that’s where some of the shenanigans come in). If you know softball, you know that tailgating is HUGE, especially at the McQuade. We also went to the main complex to watch Team USA play and to watch the annual home run derby.

We had heard the team we were playing in our next game on Saturday was pretty good, so we had to be ready. We started a little shaky and trailed 10-3 after three innings. But we turned the tables in the fourth after escaping a tight spot. Our opponent had one of its best batters up and I decided to back up a little bit in center to give myself a little more range. On the first pitch, the batter crushed the ball my way. I raced back towards the fence and noticed I was running out of room. But I kept running, extending my arm to brace for the impact while reaching over the fence, jumping and catching the ball! I could not believe it when I looked in my glove and saw the ball. I had just robbed the batter of a grand slam. Moments later, I realized that the base-runner who had been on third base had run home without tagging up. So I quickly threw the ball to third to double up the runner.

We used the momentum and excitement from my play as a game-changer. Our first six batters got on base and eventually scored. We ended up scoring nine runs that inning to go ahead 12-10. We shut out our opponent the rest of the way to win 17-10. To celebrate our invigorating win, we of course, grilled and tailgated in the parking lot!

We began Sunday three games from a title. We started our quest for another title at 8:40 (early for a softball game, but this is the McQuade) with an intense see-saw game that was tied 12-12 heading into the last inning. We went up 13-12 but had to hold on in the last half of the seventh. But our dreams came crashing down with two outs. The third batter of the inning got on with a hit down the left field foul line. The next batter sent us packing with a two-run homer.

Although it was a disappointing day, I still had a lot of fun last weekend at the McQuade tournament! It was fun seeing the different teams from around the country and playing in the nice weather. The McQuade tournament was certainly a weekend to remember. We are not defending champs but I will be back next year to shoot for another first-place finish!

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Forget the bait, catch a prehistoric monster!

Paddlefish

North Dakota is good at extremes: extreme weather, extreme landscape and of course extreme fishing! Wintertime is often a time where our anglers focus on ice fishing, tiny rod over a stationary hole waiting to catch loads of panfish in below freezing temperatures. The exact opposite of that would be paddlefishing! Hunting a single 100+ pound fish with a rod as thick as a pool cue and twice as long in gorgeous May weather.

May 1st anglers will line the shores of the Missouri Yellowstone confluence area in search of the prehistoric-monster-hundred-pound paddlefish, sometimes called spoonbill. And forget the bait, snaggers tie huge treble hooks to heavy test line trying to get their hook into the mouth of a fish as it happens to swim by.

The season opens May 1st and a paddlefish tag is required, this can be bought at the same time and places fishing licenses are bought and are required in addition to the regular fishing license. They are $7.50 for nonresidents and $3 for residents. The season is is open until May 31st and is subject to an in-season closure. If the season closes early because the harvest quota is reached, an extended snag-and-release-only period will be allowed for up to seven days immediately following the early closure, but not to extend beyond May 31. Sunday-Tuesday are catch and release only days and Wednesday-Saturday are mandatory harvest days, all snagged paddlefish must immediately be tagged and kept.

Hooking a paddlefish is like hooking the bumper of a car, you’re in for one heck of a ride until it runs out of gas.

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2012 in Fishing, Outdoor Adventure, Sports, wildlife

 

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Let’s go Bison!!!

From North Dakota to Texas and with Bison fans throughout the nation – tomorrow we’ll be cheering “Go North Dakota!” The Bison football team of North Dakota State University headed to Texas this week and will face Sam Houston State in the NCAA Division I FCS Championship game tomorrow.  Kick-off is at 12:00 p.m. (CST) in host city, Frisco, Texas.  The game will be carried nationally on ESPN2.

The road to the championship game has been paved by a 13-1 season for North Dakota.  No. 1 ranked Sam Houston has a 14-0 record.  Included in their fan support are the Governors and Senators of the two states.  North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple and Texas Gov. Rick Perry have placed a friendly wager on the game as have Senators Conrad and Hoeven!

Head Bison football coach Craig Bohl with the North Dakota State University team. Photo by Dave Wallis

North Dakota State University is a research university with an enrollment of more than 14,000.  It’s main campus is in Fargo, which has a metro population of 190,000 and in addition to Division I athletics is also home to USHL hockey and American Association independent baseball.

If you’re at the game or cheering from home, be sure to share your fan photos with us on our Travel North Dakota page on Facebook.  And tweet your thoughts to @NorthDakota and @NDSUAthletics.  Go Bison!

 
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Posted by on January 6, 2012 in Events, Family Fun, Sports

 

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Happy birthday COACH Erstad

Happy birthday to North Dakota baseball star (and now coach) Darin Erstad.  A native of Jamestown, Erstad spent 14 years playing Major League Baseball and was a two-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove winner.  Erstad was the No. 1 overall pick in the 1995 MLB Draft.  During his career, he helped the Los Angeles Angels to a World Series title in 2002 and two other American League playoff appearances.  He retired in 2009.

This week, Erstad was named Head Baseball Coach for the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers.  He had previously been volunteering as an assistant coach with the Huskers.

In his hometown of Jamestown, visitors can see the World’s Largest Buffalo (statue) and three rare and real albino buffalo at the National Buffalo Museum.  Experience pioneering life at the Frontier Village and slide into the North Dakota Sports Hall of Fame to see inductees such as Vikings football player Jim Kleinsasser, newly retired Lakers Coach Phil Jackson and homerun king Roger Maris. 

Special events include the Fort Seward Wagon Train  June 19-25, which gives visitors a flash-from-the-past covered-wagon experience.  The Tatanka Festival, July 7-10, will have wild west shootouts, parade, carnival and much more.

 
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Posted by on June 4, 2011 in ND in the News, Sports

 

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Run, run, running

Here’s a quick post before the weekend and then I’m off and running!  Okay … that was a little inside joke.  I’m heading to the Fargo Marathon this weekend where I will NOT be running 26.1 miles.  Inside, I will run the 10K and probably finish about the same time as the Marathon winner!

The Fargo Marathon has been named one of the nation’s best by Runner’s World and has grown from 2,400 to 20,000 runners in just five years.  Fargo will be hopping this weekend.  If you’re visiting – this weekend or in the future – and need assistance with lodging, attractions or more contact the CVB.

You can even get your picture taken with the Woodchipper from the Coen Brothers movie Fargo.  The real one will be at the Fargodome this weekend during race events, but a look-alike is at the Fargo-Moorhead CVB all the time!

 Can’t make it to Fargo this weekend?  Don’t worry.  We have more opportunities to run North Dakota coming up!

 
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Posted by on May 20, 2011 in Events, Family Fun, Sports

 

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The Legendary Phil Jackson

The best coach in the National Basketball Association officially announced his retirement last night, and it’s time for us to say “Congratulations Phil Jackson!”  That isn’t just because his 1,155 wins and career .704 winning percentage is the best in NBA history, it’s also because North Dakota is proud of this hometown hero and hopes he has a heck-of-a-fun retirement!

Jackson was raised in Williston, North Dakota, and began his legendary basketball career there – leading the high school team to two state titles.  Jackson went on to the University of North Dakota (in Grand Forks), where he helped the team to third- and fourth-place finishes in the NCAA Division II tournaments in 1965 and 1966.

In 1967, Jackson was drafted by the New York Knicks.  He played professionally for 13 years and in 1987 began a coaching career with the Chicago Bulls that included a promotion to head coach in 1989.  Jackson coached the Bulls to 6 championships in nine seasons.

In 20 years of coaching (9 with the Chicago Bulls and 11 with the Los Angeles Lakers), Jackson notched 11 championships and numerous other accolades.  He coached some of the best in professional basketball, including Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant.

In 1992, Jackson was honored with a Theodore Roosevelt Rough Rider Award.  His portrait hangs in the Rough Rider Hall of Fame, on the lower level of the Capitol building.

While we honor this great coach from Williston whose career took him across the nation, we recognize that dream starts wherever you play – including here in Bismarck with the NBA D-League Team, the Dakota Wizards.

 

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Take me out to the ball game!

The North Dakota Tourism staff - it was Halloween, but even then we were excited for baseball season. Go RedHawks!

We’ve got a little baseball fever here in the North Dakota Tourism office.  We’re following the 50th anniversary of Roger Maris’ legendary 1961 season, tomorrow the F-M RedHawks start their regular season and on Friday evening, an interview with North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple will air during the Minnesota Twins pre-game show on Fox Sports North.

By the way, the Governor is being interviewed by that awesome host Marney Gellner who is also a North Dakotan!  And you’ll want to tune into the pre-game because we’re giving away four tickets to a RedHawks game of your choice and Governor Dalrymple will tell you how to enter.  The Twins Live Pregame show starts at 6:30 p.m. (CST), May 13 on FSN.

The RedHawks start their season on the road, but next week (May 16, 17 and 18) will be home to host the St. Paul Saints for the first time in six years!  These two teams had multiple championships in the Northern League of Independent Professional Baseball and it will be a classic rivalry as they compete in the American Association.

Oh! And while you’re enjoying baseball this summer be sure to grab a bag of Giant Sunflower Seeds, they’re produced here in North Dakota too!

 
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Posted by on May 11, 2011 in Events, Family Fun, Sports

 

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