Rugby Gooseneck takes Chamber tourney trophy
The Rugby Chamber of Commerce continued a long, fun tradition last weekend when it hosted its annual softball tournament at the Rugby Recreation Complex.
The 2019 League Champions Gooseneck Implement of Rugby topped 13 teams in the round-robin tournament Sunday to take the 2020 Chamber trophy. Gooseneck defeated Davis Sinclair Station of Dunseith 14-11 for the title.
Fourteen teams from as far away as Fargo participated in this year’s tourney. Three Rugby teams, sponsored by Gooseneck Implement, the Rugby Eagles and Lee’s Bar participated.
Rugby Chamber Executive Director Laurie Odden said the number of teams participating this year was scaled back from the usual 18-19 teams that have played in the past.
Spectators practiced social distancing at the event. Most sat in clusters with family or friends to view the games, each group spaced several feet apart. Others watched the games from their cars parked near the ball diamonds.
“We are set up (to limit the spread of the coronavirus),” Odden said. “We have hand sanitizers set up and bathrooms equipped with hand sanitizers and wipes.”
“The teams are encouraged to hang out with their own teams,” Odden said. “Not that we don’t want you socializing with everyone else, but stay in little pods together. Umpires made a decision not to allow any handshakes after the game,” she added.
“It’s been good,” Odden noted. “There are a lot of people milling around, but I think they’re doing their best to socially distance. The hand sanitizers are around and we’re doing what we can, but we’re still enjoying some time here.”
Area businesses offered items such as Tex-Mex food, flavored lemonades and baked goods to spectators.
“We weren’t sure how we were going to handle the food with the COVID guidelines, so it was great that Luna’s Foodwagon was here with us,” Odden said. “We also have Rez Famous Lemonade here, so it’s good you can have a cold beverage when you come down here. Keri’s Baking Obsession is here.”
Another vendor sold Dippin’ Dots ice cream.
Tournament players showed plenty of prowess on the field, several smacking home runs over fences and sending hits over the ball diamond lighting fixtures high in the air, but an overall fun mood prevailed.
Championship round teams Gooseneck and Davis Station chatted back and forth with each other from a distance, and many joked with the umpires.
Gooseneck catcher Brock Haakenson, who works as an ag mechanic for the company when he’s not on the team, bore the number 6.9 on the back of his uniform.
Haakenson sat with Gooseneck pitcher Hunter Hager in the dugout after the game.
“This is our second year playing for Gooseneck,” Haakenson said. “We played one year for 3rd Street Station, too.”
“This is our second trophy,” Hager added. “We won the league tournament last year. We’re hoping for a repeat this year.”
Hager and Haakenson said their team plays with the Rugby League, which is part of USA Softball of North Dakota.
“Every Thursday night, we play a league game,” Hager said. “We play teams from Dunseith, Rolla, Bottineau all over.”
“We’re really happy we won this tournament,” Haakenson noted. “We ended up losing one game in this to the Rugby Eagles.”
Haakenson said the Eagles were defeated in later games, leaving Davis Station and Gooseneck in the last game of the tournament.
“I think the Eagles got third place,” Haakenson said.
Dave Azure, who pitched for Davis Station, said he enjoyed the tournament.
“The tournament’s always fun,” Azure said. “We’re in this tournament every year. The heat is something else, but we always have fun in this tournament.”
“Socially, it’s good,” Azure added. “We meet a lot of players and talk to people that you see one time a year. So, it’s nice to catch up and the playing’s just extra on top of it.”
“This is my fifth year playing for Davis Station,” Azure said. “We took second in this tournament last year, then we won two years prior to that.”
Did he and his team plan to play in the Rugby Chamber tournament next year?
“Absolutely,” Azure answered.
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