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3 SOPS claims softball title

Members of the 3rd Space Operations Squadron softball team gather around their Commander, Lt. Col. Chris Todd, following the Schriever intramural softball championship trophy presentation Friday, Aug. 28, 2015, at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado. 3 SOPS defeated the 50th Security Forces Squadron 19-7, scoring six runs in both the 4th and 5th innings, to take home the title. (U.S. Air Force photo/Christopher DeWitt)

Members of the 3rd Space Operations Squadron softball team gather around their Commander, Lt. Col. Chris Todd, following the Schriever intramural softball championship trophy presentation Friday, Aug. 28, 2015, at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado. 3 SOPS defeated the 50th Security Forces Squadron 19-7, scoring six runs in both the 4th and 5th innings, to take home the title. (U.S. Air Force photo/Christopher DeWitt)

Tommy Taylor, 3rd Space Operations Squadron, connects with a pitch during the Schriever intramural softball championship Friday, Aug. 28, 2015, at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado. Taylor hit an inside the park homerun and drove in four runs as 3 SOPS defeated the 50th Security Forces Squadron 19-7 to win the championship. (U.S. Air Force photo/Christopher DeWitt)

Tommy Taylor, 3rd Space Operations Squadron, connects with a pitch during the Schriever intramural softball championship Friday, Aug. 28, 2015, at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado. Taylor hit an inside the park homerun and drove in four runs as 3 SOPS defeated the 50th Security Forces Squadron 19-7 to win the championship. (U.S. Air Force photo/Christopher DeWitt)

Nick Pontieri, 50th Security Forces Squadron, throws to first during the Schriever intramural softball championship game against the 3rd Space Operations Squadron Friday, Aug. 28, 2015, at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado. Six run innings in the 4th and 5th helped 3 SOPS to a 19-7 victory and the championship trophy. (U.S. Air Force photo/Christopher DeWitt)

Nick Pontieri, 50th Security Forces Squadron, throws to first during the Schriever intramural softball championship game against the 3rd Space Operations Squadron Friday, Aug. 28, 2015, at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado. Six run innings in the 4th and 5th helped 3 SOPS to a 19-7 victory and the championship trophy. (U.S. Air Force photo/Christopher DeWitt)

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- The 3rd Space Operations Squadron scored six runs in each of the 4th and 5th innings of the Schriever Air Force Base intramural softball championship game to defeat the 50th Security Forces Squadron 19-7 and take home both the regular season and tournament championships here Aug. 28.

"This was a reward for all the hard work we put in before and during the season," said 3 SOPS coach Austin Randle. "We did a lot of practice either after or before work. It was just a culmination of all that [effort]."

After falling behind 7-0, 50 SFS scored five runs in the top of the 4th inning, including a 2-run homerun from Kelly Huntsman, to pull within two. Answering right back, 3 SOPS scored once, then with two outs scored five more times to stretch the lead to 13-5.

"A lot of us went and watched the two [SFS] games the day before and we knew they were big hitters and could play hard," said Tommy Taylor, 3 SOPS. "When they scored the five runs, it was a reality check. We had to make sure that didn't happen again, and we did."

Errors by 50 SFS in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th innings accounted for five of 3 SOPS' 19 runs.

"When a team makes an error that opens up [opportunities] to take advantage and run aggressively" Taylor said. "Any chance to advance or score a run is essential."

Mike Smith put the game away in the 5th inning with a walk-off, 2-run homerun, his first homer of the season.

Randle said the team made a concentrated effort to focus on getting more base hits this season, as opposed to trying to get the big hits.

"We put more emphasis on getting on base," Randle said. "Just get those hits because the next one up is probably going to get a hit."

In all, 3 SOPS tallied 18 hits and scored at least two runs in all five innings. Stephen Welling got things started for 3 SOPS with a 2-run homer in the first, his first of the season. Welling would score twice more and add another RBI later in the game.  Taylor also hit his first homer of the season, the inside the park variety, and totaled four RBI on the day. Ryan Reavis also added four RBI for 3 SOPS.

After overcoming a slow start to the season, 3 SOPS rolled to a 13-4 regular season record, going 9-1 in the last 10, and the top seed in the postseason tournament. The second seed, 50 SFS, finished 11-6.

"Everyone had a few losses at the start of the season," Taylor said. "Approaching the playoffs, everyone started playing well. I think consistency in having players out there was our biggest advantage. Every game we had at least eight of our starters."

Even with that consistency, Randle said the championship game was the first time all 10 of 3 SOPS' projected starters were in the lineup at the same time.

"This was the first time we've had our true lineup," Randle said. "There have been games where we were missing one or two. The people who stepped in during the regular season, they were key contributors. They helped us to the number one seed. I just want to say great job to everybody who showed up and played or came out and supported us. We couldn't have done it without them."
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