Geronimo team wins championship; excels in 'fundamentals'
June 22, 2009
- Polk team wins record 112 games
FORT POLK, La. -- June 11, the 1st Battalion (Airborne), 509th Infantry capped off an amazing two-year run winning its second Spring/Summer Post Intramural Softball Championship, and fourth post championship overall.
The past two years have been a tale of dominance for a team that, at times, struggled to scrape enough players together to take the field. Through it all, Geronimo held their heads high and continued to put the right players in position to win.
Lt. Col. Darron Wright, 509th coach, would tell you, "It's all about the fundamentals." When it comes to being a Soldier in this unit and a player on this team, those words never rang more true.
Returning from block leave, the battalion executed a brutal 72-hour competition in 100-degree heat to determine the "best squad." Geronimo took the field, tired and worn against A Company, 3-89, for the first of three games. With a display of hitting and defensive prowess, the 509th won convincingly by a score of 24 to four. The next two games brought more of the same, as Geronimo scored 64 runs on the night while only giving up a total of 11. Next came the championship rounds.
Up next was a team that played with heart and professionalism, not to mention a boatload of talent. 2nd Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, had been one of only five teams to beat the 509th in more than two years. Geronimo knew this game would be a test of will and the "Outlaws" left no room for error. Jumping out to a seven to nothing lead in the first, the 509th was tested the rest of the game.
Relinquishing the lead to the Outlaws in the 4th, Geronimo felt the pressure as the lead changed hands three more times. Up 15 to 14 in the seventh inning, Christopher Stark made an incredible diving stop on a ball hit deep in the hole at short and threw the runner out at first to win the first game of championship play. The Outlaws would have to play two grueling games in order to get back to the championship game.
Winning their two games, the Outlaws and Geronimo were set to play for the championship -- 2/30 would have an uphill climb as they would have to beat the 509th twice to be crowned post champions.
The respect these two teams had for each other was apparent from the start. Reminiscent of an MLB National League small ball contest, base running, preventive defense, and placement hitting took over in both dugouts. The lead changed hands six times in seven innings.
Position players were laying out, putting their bodies in the dirt or fence for the sake of a softball game. The chatter was upbeat and never unsportsmanlike as both teams fought off exhaustion to hold onto every inch of the field they could.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, Geronimo took over with a 14 to 10 lead. Knowing that the Outlaws could drop a 10- spot on Geronimo without blinking, players took the field in the top of the seventh knowing that great defense was imperative.
Some ball players would tell you that first and third out of the last inning are the hardest to get.
That would be proven. The Outlaws scored twice before the first out was recorded. Next one up, single, 14-13. A routine grounder followed for the force at second, and now Geronimo was one out away from taking the crown. The Outlaws weren't going quietly, however, as they knocked out two more singles, putting players on first and second with two out. The next batter put a screamer down the third base line, where David Crosson fielded it and touched third for the force and the championship.
It was a bittersweet moment, as the Army continues to roll and place great leadership in positions to train and deploy with other units. Many Geronimo players are on orders to leave, however, they leave with memories of a team that won 112 games and lost only eight.