Marine Corps Dominate for Gold at 2018 Armed Forces Softball Championship

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jerine Lee U.S. Armed Forces Sports

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There wasn’t a dry eye in the wave of emotions as the Men’s Marine Corps Softball team shocked the world winning gold in 18 years at the Armed Forces Men’s Softball Championship held here at Barrancas Ball Fields, Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., Aug. 20-22. 

Pushing through the triple-round robin tournament, the Marine Corps team locked in the gold after defeating Navy 34-22 in the third round of play.

“This has to be one of my proudest moments,” said Marine Corps Coach Sgt. Maj. Christopher Balcazar. “Our spirit and humbleness picked us up through the heat and exhaustion and the families were an unconditional support force through this entire journey.”

The Marine Corps team last won gold 18 years ago in 2018, marking this year a huge milestone in their softball careers.

“I am blown away, the sacrifices we put into being here created an exclusive team with a special bond, so this a huge accomplishment playing with and against elite players of all branches” said Marine Corps Co-Captain 1st Sgt. Rynne Brandt, of Hilo, Hawaii. “We always looked for improvement, stayed humble, and focused on our goal for gold. We did it for our brothers at home and serving overseas, this is for them.”

In the determining game for the silver medal, the last game was cancelled due to a heavy rain. For the first time in Armed Forces Softball history, two teams were awarded the silver medal; Navy and Air Force.

“This was a unique situation” said Mr. Steven Dinote, Armed Forces Sports Council Secretariat. “Normally we would delay the game, but with the time already after nine at night and the field flooded, we had no choice but to cancel the last game.”  

During the last game, Navy faced Army to determine Navy’s final record. A Navy win would tie Air Force’s 5-4 record, giving Navy the edge based on head-to-head wins (2-1).  

Based on player availability, the 15-player U.S. Men’s Armed Forces Softball Team was selected and will compete in the USA Softball Men’s Open Championship in Ridgeland, Miss. September 29-30.  

Air Force Coach Tech Sgt. Matt Norris is on his first year coaching for the Softball Championship is one of the coaches that will be moving forward to the Men’s Open Championship.

“This experience is surreal in all angles, watching these players improve and hone skills and fight all the way to the finish of this tournament and then being chosen to the next level is indescribable,” Said Norris, of Medford, Ore. “I’m thankful for the entire Pensacola team for the wonderful job and quality of their work in hosting these events and my family for always supporting me and giving me the backing and push to find the strength in leading these guys.”

Follow the action and complete results at www.armedforcessports.defense.gov.