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Wounded Warrior Softball Team Thumps D.C. Celebs

By J.D. Leipold
Army News Service

WASHINGTON, April 4, 2012 – The loss of an arm or a leg didn't seem to have an effect on the play of soldiers and Marines who make up the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team yesterday as they soundly thumped a Washington-area celebrity team made up of sports legends, broadcasters and even the D.C. mayor.

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The Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team participates in an exhibition game against a team of area celebrities at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., April 3, 2012. The veterans topped celebrities 17-4. U.S. Army photo by J.D. Leipold

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In the second annual battle between the teams, hosted by the Washington Nationals at their ballpark, the softball classic started with the able-bodied celebrities taking an early 2-0 lead. But the celebrities could muster only two more runs in five innings of play as the wounded warriors -- playing with leg or arm prosthetics or no prosthetic at all -- couldn't be stopped defensively or offensively. They gave the celebrities a 17-4 shellacking under a perfect evening sky and full moon.

For Army veteran Greg Reynolds, the loss of his left arm forequarter happened at home following a 15-month Iraq tour when he was hit by a car while riding his motorcycle. His odds were one in 2,000 of surviving and even less while in recovery, he said.

"To be out here today in front of all these people by far exceeds anything I thought possible," Reynolds said. "This is a really rewarding, humbling experience to play on such an amazing team with my brothers, but to be out and to play with obviously missing a great portion of my body motivates me to the next level, because I have this inner discipline and motivation where I want to play better than the guy with his limbs. No one should put limitations on themselves."

While on a night patrol in Iraq, Matt Kinsey stepped on a landmine, losing his right foot.

"You go from being a paratrooper, which is a very proud thing and you take a lot of pride in it, to missing a foot and your career,” he said. “It's not over, but it's really tough to get back into the infantry, and you go from being on top of the mountain to being on the bottom of it.

"This is a dream come true,” the former high school and college ball player continued. “Every little kid dreams of getting a second chance as an athlete, and I had one and lost it. This is my second chance, so I play as hard as I can while I'm out here, because it can be gone just in the blink of an eye."

Veteran soldier Brian T. Urruela, who lost his right leg below the knee to two improvised explosive devices during Operation Iraqi Freedom, said playing ball is like the next phase of his recovery, which he described as “a long, long journey of about five years."

"Being at this level and maintaining this level, we're constantly working at improving our limbs and it definitely pushes us to our limits,” he said. “It's improved me tenfold."

The partnership with the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team is one of several military outreach efforts the Nationals organization has undertaken. Team officials said they hope the softball game demonstrates to other amputees and the public that through rehabilitation and training, life without a limb can be unlimited.

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Click photo for screen-resolution imagePlayers warm up before the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team tops a team of area celebrities 17-4 in an exhibition game at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., April 3, 2012. U.S. Army photo by J.D. Leipold  
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