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EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. — Army finally won back the All-Armed Forces Men’s Softball Tournament title it last captured four years ago.

Eight-time All-Armed Forces infielder Elmer Mason led the tournament with a .700 batting average, pacing an experienced team to a 6-2 mark and the championship by a half-game over the Marine Corps. A 17-1 victory over the Leathernecks on Friday clinched it.

“It feels great. Outstanding,” said Mason, of Fort Knox, Ky., who has played on three Army teams that won the gold medal.

Army won its sixth gold, ended Air Force’s three-year hold on the title and erased the memory of last year’s final-day stumble. On Sept. 20, 2006, Army entered the final day of the tournament with a 5-1 record but lost two of its last three.

To prevent that from happening again, coach Victor Rivera set out to recruit players who’d been through the crucible and understood what it took to win the title, Mason said. Mason and 11-time All-Army catcher Andy Watts were chosen as team captains and helped with the recruiting.

That effort led to an Army team that featured 12 veterans and just three first-year players – along with some heckling, Mason said.

“There’s me at 40, there’s Chief (Watts) at 40, Mike Ladd at 40; people kept saying, ‘Ah, the old men,’” Mason said.

Those old men, including Andre Elder (seven-times All-Army) out of Camp Carroll, South Korea, carried quite a pedigree and plenty of tournament knowledge, Mason said.

“The crafty veterans know how to play. They kept us up, they kept the young ones motivated,” Mason said. “We set out on a mission, recruited to accomplish the mission and we got it done.”

Interservice softball All-Armed Forces Men’s Tournament

At Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.

Final standings

W L Pct. GB

Army 6 2 .750 —

Marine Corps 6 3 .667 ½

Air Force 4 5 .444 2½

Navy 1 7 .125 5

Wednesday’s games

Marine Corps 20, Army 8

Navy 22, Air Force 17

Army 17, Navy 8

Air Force 12, Marine Corps 11

Thursday’s games

Army 13, Air Force 10

Marine Corps 11, Navy 10

Marine Corps 9, Air Force 5

Army 15, Navy 9

Army 15, Air Force 5

Marine Corps 9, Navy 5

Army 10, Marine Corps 9

Air Force 18, Navy 9

Friday’s games

Air Force 5, Army 2

Marine Corps 9, Navy 8

Army 17, Marine Corps 1

Air Force 15, Navy 0

Army vs. Navy, ccd.

Marine Corps 9, Air Force 5

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