Army-Air Force women’s softball: Aviano rebounds from setback in opener to take home crown
Stars and Stripes August 31, 2009
AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy — Aviano rebounded from a loss in its opener to run the table and win the women’s title in the Army-Air Force softball tournament Sunday.
After a 7-6 first-round loss to RAF Lakenheath, the Dragons needed to win four games in a row for the crown. And that’s just what they did, including 9-7 and 12-8 triumphs over Lakenheath in the championship round.
"We wanted our money’s worth," coach Angelo Plaza joked. "Home-field advantage was very much an issue."
After a rain delays Saturday, it was sunny and hot Sunday. The Dragons’ bats were warm as well.
Lakenheath, playing with the minimum 10 players, and four of them new to the team, took a 3-0 lead in the second game, but Aviano came back to lead 9-6 after three innings. The Eagles cut the deficit to 9-8 in the fourth, but couldn’t get closer. Lakenheath didn’t score in the final three innings.
Pitcher April Forest took a line drive off her leg in the first game, but stayed in to finish that game and the next. There wasn’t anyone to take her place if she’d wanted to come out. Not that she appeared to want to.
"It would have been exciting for us to get a win, but it’s great just to be in the final two," she said. "We had four new girls who we hadn’t played with before. So we were still learning how to gel."
Misty Walburn had three hits for Aviano, with JoJo Martinez and Gracey Martinez each adding two.
JoJo Martinez had two home runs in the first game for Aviano, which scored five runs after the teams were tied 4-4. Lakenheath rallied in the seventh with the help of two Aviano errors, an interference call and three hits. But Aviano pitcher Mary Wilkerson got a strikeout with the tying runs on base to end it.