Whether on a professional baseball field or a softball diamond on a military installation, Sgt. Jedon Matthews of 1st Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division has maintained a strong swing of the bat and a love for the game of baseball and softball.
Matthews was one of the powerful bats in an All-Army men’s line up that swept the nine-game schedule to claim the gold medal during 2017 Armed Forces Softball Championship at Joint Base San Antonio, Texas, Sept. 19 to 23. The win gave Army a sixth, consecutive first-place finish in the annual softball tournament.
The Army men’s team totaled 278 runs in the nine-game stretch, scoring no less than 28 runs in two of the games. Matthews certainly had his fair share of runs driven in as he held a batting average of .689 and a slugging percentage of 1.489.
In terms of production, Matthews led all Army batters with 10 home runs. He also tied for the Army lead with Eric Sessom and Leonardo Aviles with 27 runs batted in. His biggest individual contribution came during the Army’s 38-31 win over the Air Force Sept. 23: five hits in six at-bats for two home runs and nine RBI.
“We had a real good group of strong guys, mentally and physically,” Matthews said. “We had a lot of (experienced) vets and only three young guys.”
Matthews was then one of nine Army players selected to play for the U.S. Armed Forces team that competed in the ASA Nationals in Oklahoma City Sept. 29 to Sunday.
The Armed Forces team was eliminated after two losses to the OC (26-25) and the FK/Pauer Sports club (32-27). Even though the Armed Forces team went winless, there was pride in the fact that it played a lot tougher than in years past.
“It’s truly an honor just to be selected to advance — to put that USA across your chest and your hat,” Matthews said.
Matthews is no stranger to playing on the diamond, both softball and baseball. Before entering the Army, Matthews was scouted out of Horizon Christian High School in San Diego to play professional baseball. In 2006, he was selected by the Chicago White Sox in the 28th round of Major League’s Baseball June amateur draft.
Matthews played two seasons for the team’s Appalachian League team, the Bristol White Sox, from 2007 to 2008. In 190 games, he hit for a .270 batting average with three home runs and 23 RBI.
He was released from the White Sox organization in 2009. Without an agent, he looked around for other baseball options before deciding to move onto something bigger. He joined the Army in 2012.
During his first year serving in South Korea in 2013, Matthews found opportunities to play softball on the installation and eventually with All-Army. He continued playing as he transitioned to Fort Benning, Ga. Now stationed at JBLM, Matthews has played for All-Army for four years during its dominant stretch — 2013, 2015 to 2017.
Softball has become his peace and serenity, he said, similar to what baseball has been for him since he first played on a diamond at age 5.
“It’s all about fun,” Matthews said. “I play the game the way it’s meant to be played. I just carried that over from baseball to softball.”