K-Heart Sports – 08/01/23

BISMARCK, ND – The Northwoods League held their Great Plains Home Run Challenge last night in Bismarck. The West team won over the East 54-43 and Jackson Hauge of St. Cloud won the individual championship with 12 homers. The Northwoods League All-Star game will be at 7 pm tonight at Municipal Park in Bismarck. It will televised on ESPNU.
MINOT, ND – Wahpeton and Kindred play in the State Class A Legion Baseball Tournament championship today. Wahpeton defeated Casselton 6-3 in the semifinals on Monday, while Kindred downed the West Fargo Vets 5-4.
MINOT, ND – Pairings are set for the Central Plains Legion Baseball Tournament in Rapid City. The two teams that represent North Dakota are Fargo Post 2 and the Williston Keybirds, the teams that played in the State Class AA Tournament championship game. Williston plays the first game of the tournament at 9:30 am Wednesday against Lincoln, Nebraska. Post 2 plays the second game at 12 pm against Eden Prairie, Minnesota. The double-elimination tournament runs through Sunday with the winner headed to American Legion World Series.
MINOT, N.D. (MSU) – The new leader for the Minot State softball program is a very familiar face for Beaver athletic fans. Minot State’s Director of Athletics Kevin Forde is pleased to introduce Sal Rodriguez as the new head coach for the Beaver softball program. Rodriguez, who spent the last two years as Minot State’s Assistant Director of Athletics for Revenue & Fan Development, begins his role with the softball program immediately. Along with his playing experience, Rodriguez brings a variety of coaching experience with him as he was head coach for the Bishop Ryan High School softball team for the 2020-21 season and assistant coach for the Lions for two seasons, served as a volunteer assistant baseball coach for the 2020-21 season at Minot State, and spent four years as a “buddy/coach” in Tri-Cities Challenger Baseball and as an honorary head coach for Special Olympics. Rodriguez replaces Bailey Gaspar, who led the Beavers to a 30-23 record in her one season as head coach.
FARGO, N.D. (NDSU) – North Dakota State defensive lineman Eli Mostaert and offensive lineman Jalen Sundell were named to Phil Steele’s Preseason FCS All-America Team compiled by Phil Steele and the DraftScout.com staff. Mostaert, a senior from Lakeville, Minn., was named to the third team and Sundell, a senior from Maryville, Mo., was named to the fourth team. Mostaert returns to the Bison lineup this year after missing 12 games during the 2022 season with a leg injury, and he has an additional year of eligibility available in 2024. He has 83 tackles, 17.5 tackles for loss, 13.0 sacks and three pass breakups in 30 career games. Sundell was NDSU’s starting center in the first five games of 2022 before a season-ending injury. A former offensive tackle, he started 25 consecutive games at center for the Bison over the past three years. North Dakota State opens the season against Eastern Washington at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on Saturday, Sept. 2.
CLEVELAND, Ohio (UND) – North Dakota defensive back C.J. Siegel picked up his third honor of the preseason being named a Phil Steele Preseason All-American as a third team defensive back. Siegel had a sensational season in 2022, starting all 12 games at defensive back. He led North Dakota and tied for No. 4 in the MVFC in pass breakups with eight, while also picking off two passes. He racked up 79 interception return yards during the season to rank No. 3 in the conference. His interception return yardage was highlighted by a 50-yard interception return for touchdown in the 27-24 win at Northern Arizona early in the season. Siegel finished the season fifth in total tackles on the team, racking up 46 tackles during the season to go with 1.5 tackles-for-loss. Earlier in the day, Siegel was a Phil Steele Preseason First Team All-MVFC selection as both a defensive back and kick returner. As a returner last season, Siegel returned 15 kickoffs for 436 yards to average 29.07 yards per kickoff return. That average led the MVFC and ranked No. 7 nationally. He also had a nose for the ball on special teams, blocking a field goal attempt in the 28-19 win over South Dakota and also blocking one at No. 4 North Dakota State the following week. Siegel served as a team captain in 2022 and earned Second Team All-MVFC status at the end of the year. Siegel and the Fighting Hawks will open the season on Saturday, Sept. 2, hosting the Bulldogs of Drake inside the Alerus Center at 3 p.m. (CT).
EAGAN, Minn. (AP) — Danielle Hunter was dissatisfied enough with his contract that he skipped Minnesota’s offseason program and kept himself off the field for the beginning of training camp. With a temporary new deal reached over the weekend, Hunter put the pads on Monday and participated in practice with the Vikings for the first time since the 2022 season ended. His contract will be in question again soon, but for now the team’s best pass rusher can happily push the business part aside and work up a sweat with his teammates while trying to master a new scheme. “I just wanted to come back here, be with my teammates and play ball. I’m happy we got over that hump,” said Hunter, who’s entering his ninth year with the Vikings.
His base salary for 2023 more than tripled to $17 million, Hunter can earn an additional $3 million in incentives, according to NFL Network. He will still hit the free agent market after the season, unless he and the team strike a deal on an extension in the meantime. The Vikings can’t put a franchise tag on him next spring as part of the new agreement. As for that third long-term contract he’d like? “I’m here now. Whenever that time comes, that time comes. The big thing is I’m here now for my coaches, my teammates and the organization,” Hunter said. “They need me to be myself this year, and that’s what I’m going to do.” Trading the three-time Pro Bowl pick was a possibility, but Hunter — speaking to reporters for the first time this year — said he loves the organization and didn’t drop any hints he’d rather be elsewhere. “I want to be a Viking forever,” Hunter said.
Having been limited to seven games over the 2020 and 2021 seasons, because of neck surgery and then a torn pectoral muscle, Hunter lost some of his leverage in seeking a bigger deal. After working out in the Arizona heat, without any injuries to rehabilitate for the first time in three years, Hunter is fully healthy and poised for a productive season under new defensive coordinator Brian Flores. The Vikings are trying to keep him that way, so they have Hunter on a two-week ramp-up process in order to ease him into full-team drills. “My team needs me. They don’t want me to rush back out there and have something bad happen,” Hunter said. “I’m just going to follow their lead and do whatever they tell me to do.”
That’s the attitude he has toward Flores and the likelihood he’ll be in more of a pure pass-rushing role and not asked to drop into coverage from the 3-4 outside linebacker position as former defensive coordinator Ed Donatell directed last season more than Hunter had been used to previously. He had 10 1/2 sacks, his fourth double-digit season total, but he never looked completely comfortable in that scheme. Now Flores and his blitz-often scheme will have Hunter’s pass-rushing prowess to lean on, lessening the pressure on newcomer Marcus Davenport and unproven backups Patrick Jones and D.J. Wonnum at the ever-important edge spots. Hunter has 71 career sacks, which is eighth on the franchise’s career list. “He brings a level of toughness in the run game as well as the pass game. We’ll do everything we can schematically to try to put him in good position as we do with all our players,” Flores said.

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