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Air Force claims gold

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah-- Air Force 2nd Lt.  Kristina Dempsey rounds third base and looks to score in recent softball action. The All-Armed Forces Women’s Softball Championships were held at Hill Air Force Base, Utah Sept. 18-21. (U.S. Air Force photo by Alex R. Lloyd)

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah-- Air Force 2nd Lt. Kristina Dempsey rounds third base and looks to score in recent softball action. The All-Armed Forces Women’s Softball Championships were held at Hill Air Force Base, Utah Sept. 18-21. (U.S. Air Force photo by Alex R. Lloyd)

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah-- Marine Corps Capt. Trish Ruf gets a hit during recent softball action as Air Force Senior Airman Carly Edwards looks on. The All-Armed Forces Women’s Softball Championships were held at Hill Air Force Base, Utah Sept. 18-21. (U.S. Air Force photo by Alex R. Lloyd)

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah-- Marine Corps Capt. Trish Ruf gets a hit during recent softball action as Air Force Senior Airman Carly Edwards looks on. The All-Armed Forces Women’s Softball Championships were held at Hill Air Force Base, Utah Sept. 18-21. (U.S. Air Force photo by Alex R. Lloyd)

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah-- Navy Seaman Jamie Strum makes a throw in an attempt to strike out her opponent during the All-Armed Forces Women’s Softball Championships The championships were held at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, Sept. 18-21. (U.S. Air Force photo by Alex R. Lloyd)

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah-- Navy Seaman Jamie Strum makes a throw in an attempt to strike out her opponent during the All-Armed Forces Women’s Softball Championships The championships were held at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, Sept. 18-21. (U.S. Air Force photo by Alex R. Lloyd)

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah-- Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Danielle Kubit, Naval Support Activity Souda Bay, Crete, gets a hit while Army Capts. Kendra Allen (#9), U.S. Army Reserve, Ga. and Jessica Turner get ready to play defense during the All-Armed Forces Women’s Softball Championships were held at Hill Air Force Base Utah, Sept. 18-21. (U.S. Air Force photo by Alex R. Lloyd)

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah-- Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Danielle Kubit, Naval Support Activity Souda Bay, Crete, gets a hit while Army Capts. Kendra Allen (#9), U.S. Army Reserve, Ga. and Jessica Turner get ready to play defense during the All-Armed Forces Women’s Softball Championships were held at Hill Air Force Base Utah, Sept. 18-21. (U.S. Air Force photo by Alex R. Lloyd)

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah -- For the second time in three years the Air Force Women's Softball Team takes home gold medals. With a record of 7-2, the Air Force claims the 2007 All-Armed Forces Women's Softball Championships.

Hill Air Force Base played host to the tournament for the second year, Sept.18-20. Rounding out the tournament was the Army with a record of 7-2*, the Navy took third with a 3-6 record and coming in forth was the Marine Corps at 1-8.

The Air Force began the tournament with a 28-2 win over the Navy. The Air Force started the game strong with six runs on six hits including a homerun by Staff Sgt. Latricia Munday, Lajes Field, Azores, Portugal.

Leading the Air Force was Tech. Sgt Karrie Warren, Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., going five for five batting and driving in four runs, and Senior Airman Carly Edwards, Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, going four for five batting and driving in one run.

The Air Force's biggest challenge of the day would come when they would face their rivals, the Army.

The game started out with the Army taking a 2-0 lead in the first inning. The Air Force answered with a pair of runs in the bottom of the second inning. For the next five innings it was a battle of the bats. Both teams were consistent in batting as well as base running.

Going into the bottom of the sixth inning the Air Force had a 9-7 lead. The Army scored once and was threatening to score again with two on base when Spc. Shannka Taylor hit a three run homerun to put the Army up 11-9 going into the top of the seventh.

The Air Force once again turned to their batting. With two outs, Master Sgt. Laurie Doughty hit a double to right filed scoring two and tying the game. The Air Force used smart base running to score four more runs before going into the bottom of the seventh with a 15-11 lead.

Army Capt. Kendra Allen, U.S. Army Reserve, Augusta Ga., hit a triple to start the inning for the Army. The defense of the Air Force was too much for the Army, the game ended with a strike out, sacrifice fly and a fly ball.

The Air Force was undefeated after the first day with the 15-12 win over the Army.

"My heart was pounding," Sergeant Doughty said [of her at bat]. "I kept saying I can do this, I can do this. Then, I just took my pitch and drove it."

"The ladies showed great heart," said Air Force coach Senior Master Sgt. (ret) Cheryl Trapnell. "Everyone on the team stepped up, and never gave up, I am so proud of them."

The next time the two teams met would not be so favorable.

The Army team came out motivated and immediately took control of the game. They combined the power of their bats and their solid defense to take an early lead over the Air Force.

The Air Force threatened to make a come back in the bottom of the second inning with the bases loaded when the Army turned a routine ground ball into a triple play to close out the inning.

The hitting for the Army continued through the game with a single home run by Spc. Shannka Taylor in the top of the fourth inning and an inside-the-park homerun by Cpl. Roxanne Finks, Camp Humphreys, Korea, in the top of the fifth.

The Army gave the Air Force their first loss with a 13-5 victory.

"We play for the gold (medal) every game," said Army Staff Sgt. Tammy Harris, Fort Sill, Okla. "We are going to play hard to the end, and we never take a game lightly."

The second game of the afternoon was between the Navy and the Marines and proved to be a battle of the bats.

The Marines came out firing in the second inning with 13 hits and aggressive base running.

Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class, Heather Nolan, Navy Information Operations Command, Lackland Air Force Base Texas, tried to get the Navy going with a three-run triple in the bottom of the third inning, but the solid defense of the Marine Corps stopped any hopes of a come back.

The Marines got their first win of the tournament against the Navy, with 24 total hits including a two run triple by 1st Lt. Leigh Irwin, Marine Corps Air Station, New River.

The other teams tend to look past the Marine Corps because of low numbers, commented Marine Head Coach Randy Husted. "The team worked hard and it paid off. They did a great job."

After the disappointing loss to the Marines the Navy was determined to step up against the Air Force. Down 11-4 going into the top of the sixth inning, the Navy batted through their line up and scored 11 runs on 12 Air Force errors.

"We were determined not to get nervous and to have fun," said Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Jenea Marjama, USS Nimitz. "We never got defeated, with the continuous base hits, and solid defense everything fell into place."

The Air Force threatened to make a come back scoring 3 runs in the bottom of the sixth inning, but Navy hitting and rock solid defense was too much, and the Navy handed the Air Force their second loss of the day, 17-14.

"This was a huge win for the girls, a huge win for the program," said Navy Coach Senior Chief Petty Officer Kirk Myers, USS Makin Island. "A lot of people came through and made big plays. Our bench was crucial in this game."

The third day was make or break for the Air Force as they faced the Army in the first game. The Air Force would need to win all three games to clinch the title. The Army would need to beat the Air Force to clinch the title.

The Air Force set the tone for the entire game with a string of three triples and home run by Staff Sgt. Sarah Ryan, Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.

The Air Force used basic fundamental softball to hand the Army a 13-0 loss, the first shut out of the tourney.

"The team regrouped and we came out determined and with intensity," said Ryan. "We weren't going to give up and we showed that."

The Air Force clinched their second gold medal in three years with two wins over the Marines and the Navy.

"The ladies came out today with the intensity and hunger they had the first day," said Air Force Assistant Coach Rob Hoffman, Hurlburt Field, Fla. "The entire team played well, they communicated and played fundamentally sound softball."

At the conclusion of the tournament 12 players were picked as the all-tournament team and 15 ladies were chosen to represent the Armed Forces at the Amateur Softball Association's women's championship in Oklahoma City.


*The Air Force and the Army had the same record, but since the Air Force beat the Army twice, they clinch the championships.