Post Softball Field Opens, Inaugural Tournament Over Weekend

PFC Abel Trevino
28th Public Affairs Detachment

Across the globe, softball and baseball season is winding into high gear as both children and adults partake in the pastime. This year, in the midst of a combat zone in the middle of Iraq, soldiers and contractors at LSA Anaconda will not be any different.

While the official softball season for LSA Anaconda does not begin until Saturday, a new softball field was broken in with an inaugural "one pitch" softball tournament on Friday. Command Sgt. Maj. Dan Elder threw the ceremonial first pitch of the first game on the field - an upset defeat of 20-4 by the 29th Signal Battalion team over the 226th Medical Logistics team.

"We're kicking off the season with a 'one pitch' tournament, to get everyone in the mood for softball. Then we begin a 45-day process that will pit 52 teams against each other in five different brackets," Elder said. "We definitely have a lot of interest in softball here."

The interest for the softball field started 45 days ago, when Elders tasked Master Sgt. Alan Bridgewater, LSA Anaconda Sports director, with the development of a sports program including intramural sports.

"Master Sgt. Bridgewater took the task, found the ground, laid groundwork, and has basically put together a ballfield in the middle of a war zone in Balad, Iraq. We're pretty proud of the work he has done," Elders said.

Being modest about his contribution, Bridgewater said that logistically it was difficult, but the real effort was put in by his eight local national laborers and the 84th Engineers Battalion, who surveyed and leveled the field.

"I have to admit that first base went in at 3:30 p.m., with the game at 4," Bridegwater said.

Overall, reaction to the softball field was positive.

"The field is pretty good. It's all dirt, and they could use some grass out there, but the dust kick up isn't that bad," said Kenneth Louis Wydeman, 226th pitcher.

The field may not have any of the luxuries that people are accustomed to at softball fields, but it offers soldiers something more.

"The opportunity to get out here, and the athletic endeavor is phenomenal, the idea that we can play ball out here, in this environment, should put smiles all across this post," said Bridgewater.

"It's a good chance to do something different, to get out and get away from the war environment," said Wydeman.

"I had a blast. Gosh, it is fun to be back on a ball field. The guys and gals that were out there, even the team that lost, they were having fun. That's what we're here for, at this point, to bring the morale up. The soldiers have a mission to perform, and if we can give them the opportunity to get out there and have some fun and let off a little steam, it's great," said Bridgewater.

While here, thousands of miles from home, American soldiers are reminded that the United States isn't very far away after all.

"We're just out here enjoying an All-American sport in Iraq," Elders said.

 

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Command Sgt. Maj. Dan Elder, the commmand sergeant major for the 13th COSCOM, commences with the coin toss for LSA Anaconda's new softball field's inaugural game between 29th Signal Battalion and the 226 Medical Logistics. The softball field , which was completed in 45 days, was broken in over the weekend with a "one-pitch" tournament.

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Right outfielder Byong Yu, of the 29th Signal Battalion Avengers, races to pick up a ground ball. The Avengers defeated the 226th Medical Logistics softball team 20-4 in the inaugural softball game for the new softball field at LSA Anaconda.