By Spc. Jared Eastman, 1/3 AAB, USD-C Public AffairsAugust 26, 2010
BAGHDAD - On a blistering hot Iraq day, most Soldiers would find some excuse to remain indoors, citing the risk of heat exhaustion. But for two softball teams in the 1st Advise and Assist Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, the heat of the desert couldn't compare to the rivalry between them. The Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st AAB 'Bombers' beat the 1/3 Brigade Special Troops Battalion 'Team Falcon' by one run in the last inning of the game.
"Winning is great," said Spc. Clint Glass, HHC Bombers. "But whether you win or lose you take something out of it."
Unfortunately, this softball game with its 23-22 score is the last to ever be played on Contingency Operating Station Falcon.
"We are sad this is the last game of the year here on Falcon," said Staff Sgt. Kenneth Simmons, 1/3 BSTB Team Falcon. "We appreciate the guys that did come out and support us. Most of the fans have been here all year. We've had five tournaments this year, and it's been a good season."
The tournaments are run by Morale, Welfare and Recreation, and have been a "taste of home" for the Soldiers of COS Falcon.
"Sports give you a chance to relax and have fun and not really stress about the job," said Spc. Glass, "You just kind of feel like you're back home for a little bit. Even though this was the last tournament, we can still pull together and come out here to support Morale, Welfare and Recreation."
With playful ribbing and insults just this side of appropriate, the Bombers fell below Team Falcon by five runs to seven in the first inning.
"We had good sportsmanship between us and the other team," said Sgt. Antonio Henderson, HHC 'Bombers' coach, "They are kind of our rival team. We tease one another a bit; it's part of the game."
At the end of the second inning, the Bombers still weren't on their way to victory, with a score of 7-11. However, in the third, the Bombers scored three runs and managed to shut out Team Falcon during their time in the field, bringing the score 10-11.
"Even though we went through some hard times, my team was resilient," said Sgt. Henderson. "When we were down, we came all the way back. I love that about my team."
Resiliency is a word that would best describe the next two innings. The Bombers kept their plays to singles and doubles, sending their hits to holes in the outfield and bringing the score to 14-10 at the bottom of the fifth.
"The game went well," said Staff Sgt. Simmons, "We came up a little short. Our teams have been battling all year and it finally came out to the last game of the season, and they took it."
Both teams went for big hits in the sixth, closing the gap between the Bombers and Team Falcon 18-17. Then, at the top of the seventh, the Bombers scored five more runs. The good-natured jibes ran thick across the dusty field, commenting on the chances of players having holes in their gloves or whether their ill-fated swing was because of dust in their eye.
"There's really no difference in the teams or the camaraderie out here and in garrison; however, they have grass, and you get to consume other beverages," Spc. Glass laughed.
Team Falcon gave the Bombers a run for their money, sending ball after ball into the outfield as they strove to catch up, but even with their well-placed hits they came up short, leaving the score at 23-22. Although Team Falcon managed four homeruns to the Bombers' two, it wasn't enough.
However, even though the season on Falcon has ended, both teams have their eyes set on Victory Base Complex as the next tier of their softball "career."
"We will be playing softball at the Victory Base Complex," said Spc. Glass. "And I will play softball until the day I leave."