FORT SILL, Okla. -- The All-Army Women's softball team successfully defended its crown by virtue of winning the first six games of the Armed Forces Softball Tournament. The All-Army women defeated All-Air Force 12-5 and All-Navy 10-0, Sept. 15. The next day they defeated Air Force 8-4, and Navy 9-1. And Sept. 17, the Soldiers defeated the Airmen 3-2, and the Sailors 4-2. The women's tournament ended Sept. 18.
All-Army Women's Coach Master Sgt. Ken Fairley reflected on how his players got here.
More than 75 Soldiers applied for the team, and from that 25 were selected to attend tryouts Aug. 20 at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pa., Fairley said. Many of the players had experience playing college softball, and have been playing slow pitch since they've been in the Army.
At the beginning of camp Fairley told the players that no spot was guaranteed.
"That made the vets stay on their P's and Q's, and show they could do what they did last year," Fairley said
Nine veterans, six from last year's team and three that played previously, attended camp. During tryouts, the All-Army Women fielded two teams to play in local tournaments: one made up of veterans, the other of new players.
"The veterans went 5-0. The new players went 0-3, but all of their ballgames were close," said Fairly, who is assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 100th Brigade Support Battalion at Fort Sill.
With one team whittled down to 22 hopefuls, the players went to Virginia during the Labor Day weekend for another tournament. During the tournament the All-Army lost veteran player Nikki Forrey to an injury.
Some of the intangibles Fairley looked for in his players was leadership and team players as well as playing smart ball.
"This is the best rookie selection that I've had," said Fairley, who is coaching the All-Women's team for the fourth time. He also coached the All-Army Men's team one year, and played with them nine times.
The final roster of 15 players and two coaches and one trainer arrived at Fort Sill, Sept. 13, and had planned to practice that day at Cannoneer Complex, but rain nixed that. Between uniform issue, meets-and-greets and team photos, the squad had very little time to practice here before the tournament began, the coach said.
All-Army Women's nine-year veteran pitcher Lt. Col. Terri Andreoni, 41, is called Mama T as a term of endearment by the younger players. She said the veterans tell the rookies from Day 1 "to have fun, play within yourself and to hit the ball."
Andreoni, who works at the Training and Doctrine Command's Brigade Modernization Command at Fort Bliss, Texas, said playing All-Army softball is first and foremost a way to represent the service.
"Also, we do a lot of things back at 'The Gap' (Fort Indiantown Gap) that integrates with the community, and the team is like a family we call ourselves the black-and-gold family."
Spc. Miranda Campbell, of Clarksville, Texas, said it is awesome to play on the All-Army team.
"I played college ball (Emporia State University) and it's good to feel that team atmosphere again," said Campbell, a combat medic at Camp Casey, Korea.
For game results, stats and schedule of the Armed Forces Softball Tournament visit sillmwr.com and click the tournament's link.