20 hours of softball


Editor’s note: Travis Kriens had some work to do – about 20 hours worth. He spent Mar. 31 traveling with the softball team for a doubleheader against Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. The Jacks split with the Bulldogs, but Kriens was most happy to get back alive.

4:55 a.m.: The alarm on my phone goes off. I wake up. I’m awake for the trip to Des Moines, Iowa, where the South Dakota State softball team will take on Drake in a doubleheader starting at 2 p.m. This is my first time traveling with a team at SDSU, as I will be doing the play-by-play this season for all home games and select road games, like this one.

5:55 a.m.: An hour later, the bus is on the road.

6:10 a.m.: The task now is to find out how to cut some time off of this trip by falling asleep, even if only for an hour.

6:45 a.m.: Nearly an hour into the trip, I have found a position that has me laying over two seats with my right foot in the air on the seat across from me. Looking towards the back off the bus, not a head is to be seen as most have taken to a similar sleeping position.

7:45 a.m.: The distinct smell in the air wakes me. We have reached Sioux City, Iowa.

9:45 a.m.: De Soto exit takes you to Winterset, Iowa and the hometown of John Wayne.

10:50 a.m.: We arrive in Des Moines, stopping to eat at Jason’s Deli – quality place.

11:50 a.m.: The bus driver hit a car in the parking lot.

1:25 p.m. We arrive at the field. Buel Field is right by the home of the Drake Relays, which looks very old school with brick exterior and concrete bleachers with field turf.

2:00 p.m.: I hook up my equipment, big enough that it looks like it is from the ‘60s. I e-mailed the Drake softball sports information guy the week before to confirm they had working phone lines (so that I would be able to do the play-by-play). He said they could accommodate me, no problem. It turns out there was a problem. The phone lines did not work and all I got was a busy signal. No calling in and no calling out.

2:50 p.m.: After a few phone calls to numerous people, Drake’s tech guy gets there just in time to try and fix things, but to no avail.

2:55 p.m.: As the players are being introduced, I am thinking there will be no broadcast today until I get the idea to call the help desk at Jump TV (the company that GoJacks.com goes through to have internet broadcasts) to ask them if they could put me through the system on my cell phone. Whether I am using the big ‘60s box that needs a phone line or my cell phone, I just needed a working phone. The cell phone will have to do. For some reason, I brought my phone charger with me even though it was a one day trip and my phone was fully charged.

3:45 p.m.: Game 1 is in the books as Drake comes back from a 5-2 deficit to win, 6-5. The press box, about the size of a dorm room, is filled to capacity with about six to eight people in and out at any given time. The weather is beautiful for the last day in March with temperatures in the mid-50’s and basically no wind. The game was originally scheduled for Tuesday, but was thankfully pushed back two days because of cold temperatures.

6:30 p.m.: The Jacks avenge the Game 1 loss with a 4-3 victory to split the doubleheader. It is time to get back on the bus. We end up stopping at Planet Sub for supper. There is some lady in the corner who appears to be talking to herself. Maybe she was practicing for a speech, had an earpiece and was having a phone conversation or talking to someone on her laptop, but it was weird.

7:15 p.m.: Back on the road.

8:00 p.m.: I am partially knocked out cold for about 30 minutes, but am awaken by a rendition of ABBA’s 1976 No. 1 single “Dancing Queen” from Mamma Mia. At this point, I know I will not be sleeping the rest of the way.

8:30 p.m.: Not quite sure what is going on in the movie, but I figure out the basic storyline after missing the first 30 minutes. By the way, it is a musical with the actors breaking out in song. And, I don’t really think that was Pierce Brosnan singing his part.

9:05 p.m.: Movie two of the trip is How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.

10:30 p.m.: There is an awful smell on the bus and we are not even to Sioux City yet. Never found out what it was.

12:34 a.m.: I step off the bus. We are back in Brookings. I head to the office to drop off the radio equipment and write up a tennis story.

1:28 a.m.: About 20 and-a-half hours after the alarm went off, I am back in my bed.