KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa — Shagging fly balls in the outfield during his unit team’s batting practice at Kadena’s FourDiamonds Complex, Scott Roe was all smiles.

One of the presents he received for his 30th birthday Friday was an invitation to the 2004 All-Air Force men’s softball tryout camp, scheduled for Aug. 17-Sept. 5 at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.

“I’m excited,” said the staff sergeant assigned to Kadena’s 18th Logistical Readiness Squadron.

He has reason to be. Last year, he failed to survive the first cut in his first tryout camp.

Now, he wants to go back and “make a statement,” as well as secure a berth on the All-Air Force team, slated to play in the All-Armed Forces championship Sept. 6-11 at Eglin.

“I want to go down there and play softball,” Roe said. “It’s going to be different this year. I know what to expect.”

Roe, primarily an outfielder, is one of seven Pacific-based players chosen for the 33-player field in the All-Air Force camp.

Joining him from Kadena are shortstop Carlo Aguon and outfielders Joey Chastain and Adrian “Ace” Abram. Bryan Hicks of Osan Air Base, Korea, Maurice Whitlock of Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, and Jeremy Moeller of Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, round out Pacific Air Forces selections.

The field is broken into three teams of 11, scrimmaging with each other and also playing against local teams. Each player is rated on what third-year All-Air Force coach Steve Shortland at Randolph Air Force base calls a “point system.”

“There are five major categories: offense, defense, speed, experience and intangibles, and within each are sub-categories,” Shortland said, calling it a “fair system that places emphasis specifically on how they [players] perform at camp.”

Roe feels he knows what went wrong during last year’s camp, and what to do to stick with the team this time.

“I wasn’t 100 percent” into every practice and every game, Roe recalled. “You have to be ready to play every play in every game. I’m in better shape this year. I never worked out in my life until January. And I feel more confidence, too.”

One former seven-time All-Air Force and four-time All-Armed Forces infielder, Daniel Simpson, assigned to Kunsan Air Base, Korea, feels players who get cut, such as Roe, tend to return to camp more motivated.

“That makes them a little more hungry,” Simpson said, adding that Shortland can then “see how they react to adversity, if they come back and show they want it a little more.”

First-year players such as Abram are understandably nervous about the challenges ahead of them.

“Now, I’ll see if I can hit” at that level, Abram said. “If I hit, I have a chance. If I don’t hit, I’ll go home early.”

Putting him at ease is knowing more than a handful of people at camp. He’ll go there with Chastain, Aguon and Roe, and will renew acquaintances with Tony Patrick of Hill Air Force Base, Utah, and Danny Acosta of Dyess Air Force Base, Texas; both used to be stationed at Kadena.

“It helps that I’ll be going with people that I know,” Abram said.

Once there, Roe says he plans to “stay focused the whole time. Tunnel vision.”

How does Roe evaluate his chances, as well as the others?

“I think we could all make it [Air Force team],” Roe said. “It will take us doing all the things we have to do.”

Players surviving the cut and playing in the All-Armed Forces tournament have a shot to be selected for the All-Armed Forces team, scheduled to play in the Amateur Softball Association Class A nationals Sept. 16-19 at Sanford, Fla.

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Dave Ornauer has been employed by or assigned to Stars and Stripes Pacific almost continuously since March 5, 1981. He covers interservice and high school sports at DODEA-Pacific schools and manages the Pacific Storm Tracker.

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