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Vern's Views
By LaVonne Erickson

This past week I got to enjoy a few days off -- though it wasn't for the full days, it was time off. For four days in a row, Kathryn and I traveled to Garrison to watch the Renville County Muskrats play in the Northwest Regional American Legion Baseball Tournament. It was nice to be out of the office and enjoy some of our nice weather, along with some rain and wind, and watch some great baseball.

My brother, Roger, agreed to coach the Renville County Muskrats this summer. They didn't have a great record, but they did win some games, and at times played good ball. The team came into the tournament as the #7 seed (which meant they were last, as there were only 7 teams in the Region.) But they always say records can be thrown out when it comes to tournament time. I always say, Respect all teams and fear none. Any team can be beaten if you just believe in yourself and you play your game. In this case, that is what the Renville County Muskrats did. As a matter of fact, Renville County finds themselves headed to the State B American Legion Baseball Tournament this week, as they pulled off three upsets to get themselves there. They beat Stanley, the #2 seed, in the opening game on Wednesday; then came back and beat Surrey, the #3 seed on Thursday; and advanced to the semi-final game where they were beat by Burlington, giving the Muskrats their first loss of the tournament. Now they had to wait for a couple of loser-out games to see who their opponent would be, hoping they could make it back into the championship game. Lo and behold, their opponent ended up being the #1 seed, Hazen. That game kept everyone on edge! We took an early 4-0 lead on a grand slam by Doug Winzenburg in the top of the first inning and never trailed. As a matter of fact, we never scored again, but our defense stepped up. We gave up two runs in the bottom of the second, and then Hazen scored another run in the bottom of the seventh, with a man on third with two outs. A pop up that looked like it was going to the pitcher, took a little travel with the wind and made its way to third and almost out of bounds, when Berkley Santos made a marvelous catch (even though it wasn't pretty) to give the Muskrats the win. The place went wild, as fans and players were running everywhere -- a joyful sight to see! So congratulations to Roger and his Renville County Muskrats on their trip to state. First time since 2003. Good luck and have fun!

Sunday it was back to work to try and get the paper done. It was not an easy task, as I got a call shortly after I got to the office at 10:00 a.m. to tell me that my Aunt Betty (Beckedahl) Erickson, who is also my godmother, had passed away early that morning.

I loved Aunt Betty with all my heart and she was a wonderful lady. I only got to visit them one time in CA. However, I was fortunate that her and Uncle Don came to North Dakota during the summers to stay at the Mouse River Park in their cabin. I spent quite a bit of time down at the Park on weekends visiting and getting together for some cookouts. Plus, they stopped in to visit me here at the office quite a bit when they came to town. I loved my visits with Aunt Betty, even our times together for Bingo in Sherwood or at the Park. We enjoyed lots of laughs and some great bonding time. Times I will forever cherish!

Even though I know she is in a better place now and not suffering, my heart aches knowing that I will never see her again. Plus my heart aches knowing that Uncle Don has lost his wife and best friend. Rest in peace Aunt Betty - I Love You!!!

Happy anniversary to a special couple, Wayne and Clarissa Brackenbury on Thursday, July 31st; Happy birthday to Beverly (Erickson) Gallis and Matthew Erickson on August 2nd; and Aunt Susie Erickson on the 5th.

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