1st Special Forces Group 0 1 1 1 3 – 6
22nd Special Tactics Squadron 6 5 0 1 5 – 17
1st SFG (H-AB-RBI) – Maximiliano Gonzalez, 3-3-0; Michael Correll, 0-2-0; James Pierce, 0-2-2; Michael Lockridge, 1-3-2; Robert Straughn, 0-3-0; Alexander Woodruff, 2-3-0; Nicholas Marban, 0-2-1; Anacleto Zamora, 2-2-1; Ahmad Strickland, 0-2-0; Samuel Conwright, 0-1-0.
22nd STS (H-AB-RBI) – Keyton Thiem, 3-3-3; Kyle Plasterer, 3-3-3; Mike Charvat, 1-3-2; James English, 2-3-2; Joe Fernandez, 2-3-1; Brandon Simpson, 2-3-1; Travis Jordan, 1-3-1; Chad Rosendale, 2-3-2; Jordan Smith, 0-3-0; Austin Osburn, 1-3-1; Jacob Sikovic, 1-3-1.
BY DEAN SIEMON
Keyton Thiem might not have been the exact description of a walk-off winner with a three-run home run during the JBLM Commander’s Cup Softball Championship, but was the final hit that forced a fifth-inning, 10-run mercy rule to give the 22nd Special Tactics Squadron a 17-6 win over Maintenance Group Support Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) at the Lewis North Athletic Complex Aug. 31.
“I felt selfish because I took the bats out of my teammates’ hands,” Thiem said with a laugh after the game.
The 22nd STS lineup saw just about every player who stepped up to the plate drive in a run. In addition to the team hitting three home runs, there were several well-hit balls that bounced off the outfield fence or made it hard on the 1st SFG fielders to play defense.
The first inning saw everyone in the 11-man lineup have an at-bat, starting with a double by Thiem. This was followed by a RBI double from Kyle Plasterer and a RBI single from Mike Charvat. James English had a two-run home runs before the first out was recorded.
Runs driven in by Chad Rosendale and Austin Osburn rounded out a first inning with six runs for 22nd STS. The team added another five runs in the second inning that Plasterer hit a two-run home run.
“They have some great hitters,” said Robert Straughn, player coach for the 1st SFG team. “All you can do is pitch and play defense, but we didn’t really have any good batting either.”
The 1st SFG struggled to get hits with runners in scoring position in the first two innings. After singles from Maximiliano Gonzalez and James Pierce, Michael Lockridge and Robert Straughn could not convert with a flyout and groundball fielder’s choice out to close the inning.
Nicholas Marban got the first run with a sacrifice groundout that followed Alexander Woodruff’s leadoff triple in the second inning. Neither Ahmad Strickland or Samuel Conwright could get on after a single from Anacleto Zamora.
The 1st SFG team started to show life in the fifth inning with Pierce drawing a bases-loaded walk, followed by Lockridge’s single driving in two runs. The 22nd STS was able to close out the game in the fifth after back-to-back RBI singles from Osburn and Jacob Sikovic and Thiem’s three-run walk-off homer.
Powerful offense has been a trend for the 22nd STS team as it was undefeated in the regular season and through the playoffs to win the JBLM Commander’s Cup softball title. Power batting maintained despite the team having a revolving door due to a very grueling schedule linked and the demands of a pending deployment.
“Some players were here one week; others were here another week,” said Joe Fernandez, the team captain and coach. “Some guys missed anywhere from one to four weeks due to training.”
Even with some weeks where the team barely made the minimum of 10 players for games, Fernandez credited not only the 22nd STS team’s communication skills, but also their commitment throughout a challenging softball season.
“Even when they are home, they sacrificed time with their family and good friends, and well deserved time off, to showcase their talents,” Fernandez said.
It was also a special day for the 22nd STS’ Erin Bowser, who was just pinned to become a chief master sergeant in the Air Force. He added that the honor, plus being part of a championship team, was a great way to celebrate and start Labor Day weekend.
“I’ve been here (on JBLM) for six years, and this is the best team I’ve played with,” Bowser said. “It’s all about the camaraderie. You can tell how tight-knit this unit is.”