Army Women Retain Armed Forces Softball Title
By Master Sgt. Stephen Barrett, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 28, 1996 Over the past 10 years, no women's all-service softball team has been able to beat Army at the armed forces tournament.
Make that 11 years.
Army women battled to an 8-1 tournament record to capture the 1996 women's title, held Aug. 12-16 at Northeast Creek Park near Camp Lejeune, N.C. Air Force (6-3) grabbed second, followed Marine Corps (3-6) and Navy (1-8).
Going into the final day, Air Force still had a chance to take the tournament. Trailing Army by one game, an Air Force win over Army would tie the two teams at 6-2 with one game to go. Had both teams finished at 7-2, Air Force -- with a 2-1 record against Army -- would have won the tournament.
However, Army's 13-hit offensive attack and solid defense grounded the Air Force, 6-3 in what proved to be the title-clinching game. Army jumped to a 4-1 lead after two innings. They then survived a two-run Air Force third inning by adding single runs in the fifth and sixth. The win helped Army build a two-game lead over Air Force with one game to play.
Pacing Army in the clinching game was Sgt. Lucy Geidner of Fort Bliss, Texas, who collected three hits in three at-bats. Sgt. Vivian Coleman of Fort Gordon, Ga., went two-for-three with a run scored.
In losing, Air Force matched Army's hit count by also recording 13 singles. However, Air Force was unable to score runs off those hits. Capt. Kerry Muehlenbeck (Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.) collected three hits, while Senior Airman Laura Stickle (Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio) and Sgt. Wendy Hansen (Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash.) got two hits each.
Although Army finished its title defense with a 19-2 shellacking of Marines, it was one of the few times Army's offense clicked during the 1996 tournament. Last year, Army averaged nearly 12 runs a game in winning the 1995 title. This year, it was less than 10. The average victory margin in five of the eight wins was less than three runs a game.
While Army struggled to keep atop the standings, Air Force stayed close. Despite losing a 19-15 opening round game to Marines, Air Force captured five of its first seven games -- including a 16-11 victory over Army on the tournament's second day.
Army placed seven players and three coaches on the 1996 armed forces all-tournament team. Earning player positions were Warrant Officer Angie Jewett of Fort Bragg, N.C., Staff Sgt. Tina McDonald of Fort Shafter, Hawaii, Sgt. Linda Delacruz of Fort Hood, Texas, and Colbert.
Also earning player spots were Sgt. Jaymee Ross (Fort Indiantown Gap, Pa.), Geidner and Spc. Denise Morris (Fort Bragg). Coaching positions went to Gerald Cocoran -- a civilian from York, Pa., Staff Sgt. Monica Good of Kitzingen, Germany, and Sgt. Rachel Ridenour of Fort Indiantown Gap.
Marine Corps and Air Force earned four spots each on the team. Air Force members include Muehlenbeck, Airman 1st Class Wanda Graham (Cannon Air Force Base, N.M.), Stickle and Airman 1st Class Rebecca Leach (Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany).
Marines placed Sgt. Valerie Erskine (Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii), Petty Officer 2nd Class Sylvia Suluai (Camp Lejeune), Cpl. Melissa Boseman (El Toro Marine Corps Air Station, Calif.) and Cpl. Marla Jordan (Camp Lejeune).
Navy added two players to the roster, sending Petty Officers 2nd Class Carrie Finch (Barbers Point Naval Air Station, Hawaii) and Rona Hathaway (San Diego Naval Base) to the all-tournament squad.
W L PCT. GB
Army 8 1 .889 --
Air Force 6 3 .667 2
Marine Corps 3 6 .333 5
Navy 1 8 .111 7
Army 10, Navy 6
Marine Corps 19, Air Force 15
Air Force 16, Army 11
Marine Corps 13, Navy 7
Army 7, Marine Corps 4
Air Force 22, Navy 7
Army 6, Navy 4
Air Force 6, Marine Corps 3
Army 6, Air Force 4
Navy 3, Marine Corps 1
Air Force 8, Marine Corps 6
Army 15, Navy 3
Air Force 14, Navy 2
Army 9, Marine Corps 1
Marine Corps 4, Navy 0
Army 6, Air Force 3
Army 19, Marine Corps 2
Air Force 11, Navy 2