FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. – Navy went into the final inning of the championship game with a massive lead of nine runs over Air Force, but by the time the second out was called in the top of the seventh inning the Air Force had posted six runs and nearly closed the gap.
Despite stringing enough hits together to put the pressure on Navy in the final inning, Air Force came up short three runs, bringing the final score to Navy 20-Air Force 17.
Navy took home its first Armed Forces Women’s Softball Championship gold medal.
The tournament was a high-scoring competition with Navy dominating at the plate throughout the week and topping the scoreboards at 127 runs scored in seven games and Air Force trailing behind at 104.
Aug. 12, Air Force spared no effort at the plate either and put 37 runs on the board during Game Three against Navy.
Navy consistently left the field having been aggressive at the plate and having stacked the scoreboard. One of their most impressive performances took place Aug. 12 during which they run-ruled both their opponents with a 10-run lead against Air Force in Game Five, and a 16-run lead against Army in Game Six.
While the Army fought to match the competition at bat, they walked away from the tournament with a less than desirable outcome with five losses and one win, and a total of 52 runs scored and 75 runs allowed.
It isn’t what the Army Family hoped for, but team staff are proud of their players nonetheless.
Head Coach, Sgt. 1st Class Nichole Higgins, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 112th Signal Battalion, 528th Sustainment Brigade (Special Operations) (Airborne), said she was disappointed to leave with bronze, but added the Army team fought hard, represented themselves well and were outdone by outstanding players.
“The other two services brought such competitive teams,” Higgins said. “You can’t even be upset at losing because you lost to such great talent.”
For utility placer Warrant Officer Charita Hillard, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), this tournament was her first shot at gold with the Army team. While it wasn’t the outcome she’d hoped for, she said the Army is already setting its sights for next year.
“You’ll see a different type of team next year,” Hillard said. “I have full faith and confidence that we’re going to be prepping for the next 11 months until we have packet submissions again.”
Aug. 13 marked an exciting first for the Navy Women’s Softball Team and both players and coaches were moved to tears.
Head coach Petty Officer 2nd Class Gabriel Cisneros, religious program specialist, Headquarters and Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, celebrated with the team.
“This has actually been a road for the Navy program itself,” Cisneros said. “To win gold, after many years of not being able to, it’s huge not just for them but for the Navy itself.”
Petty Officer 2nd Class Ambria Eidson, religious program specialist, Naval Submarine School, Groton, Connecticut, said while the last inning became a fight she never doubted Navy would win.
“I know my Family, I know when it gets that close that we always pull through, no matter what it takes. We’re there as one team, one fight and that’s how we’re always going to be,” Eidson said, adding she is proud of her team.
“It’s one of the best feelings I’ve ever experienced,” she said.
While Army and Air Force walked away with losses, both teams expressed support for Navy and praised them for taking home their first gold medal.
Army assistant coach, Sgt. 1st Class Deanna Cubert, 704th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colorado. enjoyed watching the championship game.
“We were actually rooting for them because I mean, it’s always between Army and Air Force, so to see the Navy come out on top, because they were dominant from the beginning, and to see them come out and consistently stay dominant and then win by three plus runs, that’s huge,” Cubert said.
Higgins said she is happy for them.
“It makes the wind for the Navy, I think it’s their first gold medal ever,” she said. “The Navy killed the ball, they did fantastic.”
Competition between the Armed Services has come to a close and traditionally, players with outstanding performance are selected to play on the All Armed Forces Women’s Softball Team to later compete at a national level. Unfortunately, because of the esurgence of COVID-19, this year’s national competition will not take place, however, selections from each team were made.
For the Army, the three women who were selected are Sgt. Erica Damone, 37th Military Police Detachment, Criminal Investigation Division, Fort Jackson, South Carolina; Sgt. Brittany Stein, C Troop, 3rd Squadron, 5th Security Force Assistance Brigade, Fort Bliss, Texas; and Cpt. Alexandrea Rashenskas, 148th Military Police Detachment, Fort Carson, Colorado.