Long softball title drought is over for Kadena Falcons
TORII STATION, Okinawa — Eric Hale had waited through two tours and almost 10 years at Kadena Air Base for his chance to win a Pacific interservice softball Grand Slam title.
It finally came Wednesday for Hale and the Kadena Falcons, who broke through for their first title in the 17-year Pacific Grand Slam circuit’s history. The Falcons came from the loser’s bracket to beat Yellow Box of Okinawa 21-9 and 22-16 in the final of the Typhoon Classic.
“It feels great. It’s been a long time coming,” said Hale, who was assigned to Kadena from 1995-99 and again from 2002 until now.
Wednesday’s championship was delayed three days after heavy rain washed out play early Sunday morning. It wrapped up the revival of a tournament canceled in 2004 due to budget cuts.
Until Wednesday, Kadena hadn’t even come close to sniffing a Grand Slam title. When the Falcons did win, it was in a year they didn’t even assemble a team until halfway through the summer.
“We didn’t know what we were going to have,” Hale said. “We just pulled a group of guys together. No superstars. We hit the ball hard all tournament. I’m proud of the guys.”
It gives the Falcons momentum, Hale said, going into the year’s last Grand Slam tournament, the Kadena Klassic scheduled for Columbus Day weekend.
In the clinching game, Aaron Frederick’s two-out solo home run snapped a 14-14 fifth-inning deadlock, sparking a Falcons flurry of seven unanswered runs after seizing an 11-4 second-inning lead.
Frederick homered twice, Joey Chastain ripped a pair of two-run shots and finished with five RBIs, Tre Ebron knocked in four runs and Pokey Haynes and Steve Nabor drove in two each. Chad Malin paced Yellow Box with three homers and seven RBIs.