Army Defends Armed Forces Women's Softball Title
By Staff Sgt. Eric D. Beasley, USAF
Special to American Forces Press Service
EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla., Aug. 13, 1997 The Army women's softball team repeated as the armed forces champions -- for the 12th straight time -- at the interservice tournament here July 29-31.
The triple-round-robin contest matched the services in head-to-head three-game series. Army finished 8-1. Air Force finished 6-3 for second place. Marines and Navy finished with 2-7 records, but the Marines earned third because they beat Navy twice.
The Army women came from behind with a seventh inning homer to beat Air Force and cap off Day 1, but they lost to Navy 6-4.
"Our victory over the Army was not an upset," Navy Coach Chief Petty Officer Kent Harris said. "We practiced hard and were ready. To beat them, you have to play a near-perfect game for seven innings, and that's what we did. We didn't do anything different strategywise. Everything just came together in that game for us. On any given day, any team at this level can beat any other team."
The setback rejuvenated Army, which punished the Air Force the next day 11-1. As the final day of play unfolded, Air Force shared its pain by drubbing both the Navy and Marines 15-3 in back-to-back games. Army's record, however, locked up the championship prior to the final game against Air Force.
With nothing but pride at stake in the final game, Air Force put the squeeze on early. Air Force jumped out to a 11-0 lead after three innings. Air Force Capt. Linda Hurry, Staff Sgt. Wendy Hansen, TSgt. Cheryl Trapnell and TSgt. Laura Stickle were major contributors.
Sgt. Mary Clark started scoring for the Army in the fourth by sending a line drive up the middle to score Staff Sgt. Carolyn Ford. Staff Sgt. Quintina Donald added two RBIs as Army inched up on Air Force, closing to 11-7.
In the fifth, Ford stroked a double to the fence and later scored off a sacrifice fly, bringing Army to within two at 11-9. The teams each scored a run in the sixth.
With two outs, a runner on second and Ford at the plate, Air Force decided to pitch to Ford despite her tournament record of five homers and 14 RBIs. She upped those statistics with a two-run homer off the scoreboard, giving Army the lead for the first time in the game at 13-12.
"My goal is not to hit home runs," Ford said later. "I go out to knock the cover off the ball. Now where it lands is where it lands, but I'm not looking for the home run."
The Air Force failed to simply go away. Base hits by Staff Sgt. Sue Saulnner and Hurry put the go-ahead run on base. Staff Sgt. Trisha Luiken's sacrifice fly advanced the runners to second and third with two outs, but another pop-up permanently grounded the Air Force 13-12.
"The Army has been a thorn in my side for a long time," said 14-year tournament veteran Air Force TSgt. Cheryl Trapnell. "I've continued to come back because of my love of the game and the camaraderie between all of us. True, we focus on each team individually, but I was on the last Air Force team that won, and that was 1983. So it is a little more personal with me."
Eighteen players from the tournament were selected to attend the Armed Forces Women's Softball Training Camp here. Army led the way with seven all stars. Air Force followed with five, while Marines and Navy each contributed three.
Fifteen of the 18 will advance to the national championships in Kingman, Ariz., Aug. 15-17, as the All-Armed Forces Team. Army's Gerald Corcoran is the coach.
Soldiers selected were: Ford, Camp Stanley, Korea; Donald, Fort Shafter, Hawaii; Sgt. Linda Delacruz, Fort Hood, Texas; Pfc. Pamela Smith, Fort Campbell, Ky.; Sgt. Mary King-Espinal, Fort Wainwright, Alaska; Sgt. Jaymee Ross, Washington, D.C.; and Sgt. Stacey Green, Fort Jackson, S.C.
Air Force members were: Trapnell, Hurlburt Field, Fla.; Stickle, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio; Sgt. Lori Doughty, Keesler Air Force Base, Miss.; Sgt. Amy Dubose, McConnell Air Force Base, Kan.; and Airman 1st Class Wanda Graham, Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany.
Navy members selected were: Petty Officer 1st Class Tami-Purcell Cowls, Keflavik, Iceland; Petty Officer 2nd Class Carrie Finch, Barbers Point, Hawaii; and Seaman Nicole Cote, San Diego.
Marines selected were: 2nd Lt. Reshanda Jennings, Albany, Ga.; Seaman Stephanie Minix, Okinawa, Japan; and Petty Officer 3rd Class Sarah Abigando, Quantico Va
[Staff Sgt. Eric D. Beasley is a sports writer at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.]