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NEWS | Sept. 9, 2011

No Florida sunshine for Warhawks

By Jose T. Garza III 502nd Air Base Wing OL-A Public Affairs

For the Joint Base San Antonio Warhawks men's and women's slow-pitch softball teams, the 848-mile trip to Panama City, Fla., and the USSSA Military World Tournament didn't have a happy ending.

The Aug. 19-21 tourney saw the men's team finish ninth out of 33 entries, and the women's squad ended up in a four-way tie for ninth among 17 competitors.

While both teams were disappointed with their results, a third entry, the JBSA co-ed squad finished second in a 12-team bracket.

Competing in the men's Varsity B division, the Warhawks rolled to victories in their first two matchups, opening with a 16-10 win over Florida's JNJ Sports, and then doubling up the team from Fort Campbell, Ky., 14-7.

On the verge of advancing to the semifinals of the winner's bracket in the double-elimination tournament, the Warhawks coughed up a four-run lead in the seventh inning to Robins Air Force Base, Ga., in a 10-8 loss.

Fort Campbell avenged its earlier loss to the Warhawks with a 13-4 win in the elimination game to oust the Warhawks from the tournament.

Warhawks outfielder Michael Richardson, a staff sergeant from Lackland, said the Warhawks have no regrets about the trip or performance, and felt the team was better than its ninth-place finish.

"We should have finished better then ninth," said Richardson. "We could have beaten everybody in our bracket. We realized we can't just turn it on and off. We didn't (hit well in the last game) and that hurt us.

"We played well, and I'd say we were one of the top three teams in our bracket. Moving forward, we're going to be a force to be reckoned with for a long time," he added.

The women's team started off with a bang by shutting out Holloman AFB, N.M., 12-0 in their opening game, and then slipped past Alabama's Fort Rucker "Bama Dream" team 7-6.

The Lady Warhawks lost a heartbreaker to Virginia's Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall Lady Generals 1-0 before being eliminated by El Paso's Team Bliss 6-4.

Pitcher Krystal McGee was disappointed by the team's finish, but said visiting the Wounded Warrior softball team and rekindling competition against old friends outweighed the results.

"The Military World Tournament is a great time to play competitive ball, but it also provides a spirit of fellowship like no other tournament," McGee said. "It's a reunion for those who share the love of military and softball."

The Warhawks play next in Las Vegas on Halloween weekend where they hope to bounce back from the unsuccessful Florida trip.

"We're looking forward to getting out on the field and practicing to get ready for Vegas," Richardson said. "The goal is to end our season on a high note.

"We're going out there to make some noise. We're going to compete; we're going to pick up our heads and be ready to play," he said.

"I feel for the next team we do play because we're anxious to prove we're better than a ninth-place team."