MAXWELL SOFTBALL CHAMPS
The 42nd Security Forces Squadron Defenders enjoy the spotlight after winning the intramural softball championship with a dramatic 5-4 victory over the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center. (courtesy photo)
SFS crowned softball champs



by Airman 1st Class William J. Blankenship
Air University Public Affairs


7/31/2013 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. - -- After a drought of over five years since their last intramural softball championship, the 42nd Security Forces Squadron Defenders brought not only the hardware back to their unit, but a revived sense of unity.

On July 9, in the bottom of the final inning, down by one, Airman 1st Class Ross Griffin stepped up to the plate with the weight of a championship on his shoulders and delivered the decisive blow, capping off a championship season for his team.

With that thunderous blast, Griffin propelled the Defenders to a 5-4 victory over the No. 2 team, the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center.

Down 4-3 in the bottom of the seventh, Defenders outfielder Staff Sgt. Brandon Barnes roped a double with two outs, giving them a shot at the win.

"Who would have thought that Griffin, the ninth hitter in our lineup, gets up there and wins us the whole thing with an inside the park home run," said Master Sgt. Patrick Acre, the Defenders' pitcher.

The Defenders got off to a rocky start partly because of losing some players from last year's squad and fought high expectations based on their regular season performance from last year. After finishing strong last regular season, they were upset in the playoffs with a first-round exit. Their regular reason success seemed for nothing.

"The turning point for our team was when we played against the Barnes Center in a late season game where we were avenging an early season loss," Acre said. "We ended up winning the game with a total team effort of doing the small things. That game put us in a place where we were comfortable, and we evolved into a team that was at least competitive in every game, even if we didn't win out."

Entering the playoffs, the Defenders were a middle-of-the-bracket seed, with few outsiders believing they were a legitimate contender. However, after walking through last year's champions and this year's top seeded Defense Information Systems Agency team, the Defenders put the rest of the field on notice.

"As a team we were able to set aside our individual motives and compete," said Defenders' assistant coach Master Sgt. Jonnie Grove. "Our team cohesiveness culminated in a barely .500 regular season, going undefeated in the playoffs."