Yellow Box stops nemesis Pacific Force to capture softball crown
July 7, 2004
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — He barely had time to get his glove in front of his face, but Chris Souza’s instinctive reactions to snare a searing line drive sealed the Firecracker Shootout championship for Yellow Box on Monday.
“I wasn’t thinking at all. That was purely self-defense,” the third baseman said of the play that ended Monday’s championship game and wrapped up Yellow Box’s 7-5 triumph over Pacific Force, ending a long run of frustration for Yellow Box against their archrivals.
“It feels good,” coach John O’Brien said after his team captured its second title on the Pacific interservice Grand Slam circuit.
The women’s championship, meanwhile, was no contest. The Kadena Falcons completed an 8-0 title run in which they scored 110 runs and allowed just five by routing the Kadena Outkast 20-2 in a battle of relatively new teams.
O’Brien had reason to be happy. Yellow box:
went unbeaten in a Grand Slam tournament for the first time,ended Pacific Force’s three-year Firecracker title run, andsnapped a string of six straight losses to Pacific Force in a Grand Slam tournament final.“You just keep coming back and keep fighting,” O’Brien said. “We’ve just come up short in the big one. [Pacific Force] is a helluva ballteam, position for position. There’s no chinks in that armor. Everything has to go on all cylinders to beat them.”
O’Brien thought that happened Sunday. Scott Roe went 3-for-3 with a homer and three RBIs, Gary Solomon sparked a four-run first inning with a two-run single and Chris Souza and Tommy Byrns added back-to-back RBI doubles. The defense helped by turning a pair of double plays.
Pacific Force, winners of 39 of 61 Grand Slam titles since the circuit began in 1989, had not lost a final in seven years.
“They played better softball than we did,” said Mel Harris, coaching Pacific Force for the first time in a major tournament. “Sooner or later you have to lose. … They deserved it.”
Behind Jeff Hill, who delivered two hits and three RBIs, Pacific Force scored twice each in the fourth and sixth, but never got closer than two runs. Gary Chaney went 3-for-3 and Jesse Herrera rapped a sacrifice fly.
In the women’s championship, the batting skills of versatile Michelle Hall, who went 3-for-3 with five RBIs, including a three-run home run in a six-run fifth inning, put the exclamation point on the Falcons’ title drive — and her final tournament with the team; she transfers next month to Hill Air Force Base, Utah.
“She went out in style,” coach Al Lozano said of Hall, who split time at third base, shortstop and designated hitter. “She doesn’t always start, but when she does, she does no wrong. She can hit, she’s got a good glove and she can play anywhere.”
Maegan Sinclair, also in her last tournament after four years at Kadena Air Base, bid farewell by going 3-for-4 with an RBI double. She earned tournament MVP honors.
Joining Hall and Sinclair on the hit parade were left fielder Amanda Snyder, who went 5-for-5 with five singles and two RBIs; and All-Marine outfielder Jamie Bailey, 4-for-5, with four RBIs.
Since finishing third in the Pacificwide Open over Memorial Day weekend, the Falcons, who formed just three months ago, have gone 12-0 and outscored opponents 179-14.
“We were new to each other in Korea,” Sinclair said. “We went flat there, but since then, we’ve gained more confidence and we wanted to come out here and show the way we can play ball.”
9th Firecracker Shootout Open Softball Tournament
Most Valuable Player — Bill Stroup, Yellow Box
All-Tournament Coach — John O’Brien, Yellow Box
Team Sportsmanship — Chinese Taipei
Gold Glove — Carlo Aguon, Pacific Force
All-Tournament Team — Dexter High, Joey Chastain, Bill Stroup, Scott Roe, Yellow Box; Gary Chaney, Carlo Aguon, Jesse Herrera, Richard Krause, Pacific Force; Chen Hsin Yuh, Tsai Hung Liang, Chinese Taipei.
Most Valuable Player — Maegan Sinclair, Kadena Falcons
All-Tournament Coach — Al Lozano, Kadena Falcons
Team Sportsmanship — Kadena Outkast
Gold Glove — Candace Dugo, Kadena Falcons
All-Tournament Team — Maegan Sinclair, Twyla Sears, Amanda Snyder, Candace Dugo, Kadena Falcons; Alma Cano, Lisa Baker, Franchesca Rosa-Lopez, Kadena Outkast; Phyllis Jernigan, Joycelynne Aiken, Torii Tides; Tracy Krumenacker, Rock Phins.