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343rd TRS captures JBSA-Lackland intramural softball title

Navy Information Operations Command-Texas base runner Ross Beebe slides under the tag as 343rd Training Squadron catcher James Bice tries to take him out at home July 26 during the Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland intramural softball tournament championship game. Home plate umpire Jesse Jenkins called Beebe safe. NIOC-Texas, and the 343rd TRS will join the 802nd Force Support Squadron and the 624th Operations Center at the all-JBSA intramural softball tournament, which begins Monday at JBSA-Randolph. (U.S. Air Force photo/Alan Boedeker)

Navy Information Operations Command-Texas base runner Ross Beebe slides under the tag as 343rd Training Squadron catcher James Bice tries to take him out at home July 26 during the Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland intramural softball tournament championship game. Home plate umpire Jesse Jenkins called Beebe safe. NIOC-Texas, and the 343rd TRS will join the 802nd Force Support Squadron and the 624th Operations Center at the all-JBSA intramural softball tournament, which begins Monday at JBSA-Randolph. (U.S. Air Force photo/Alan Boedeker)

8/3/2012 -- JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas -- Pitcher/coach Richard Luna could not find the vernacular to describe the 343rd Training Squadron's miraculous run to the Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland intramural softball championship.

One word did come off the tip of his tongue though - "surprised!"

Going into the July 26 base intramural softball title game as the seventh seed, the 343rd TRS shocked itself by defeating No. 1 seed Navy Information Operations Command-Texas 9-6. To reach the finals, TRS defeated the 37th Training Support Squadron, the 668th Alteration and Installation Squadron, and the 802nd Force Support Squadron over a span of three nights.

It took NIOC's final out for it to sink in. At 8-6 during the regular season, the Competitive League's 343rd TRS is the base intramural softball champion.

"The way we started out the year, it's surprising we became champs," Luna said about the team that lost three games early in the regular season. "I'm speechless. We've been playing great ball over the past four games, and it couldn't have come at a better time."

TRS, along with the NIOC, FSS, and 624th Operations Center, have all earned an automatic bid to represent JBSA-Lackland in the all-JBSA intramural softball tournament, which begins Monday at JBSA-Randolph.

Nothing came easy this season for the 343rd TRS and NIOC almost played the role of spoiler in TRS's quest for the base title. TRS commanded a 6-2 lead through 5½ innings but NIOC fought back, scoring four straight runs to tie the game with a Nick Leyba two-run single.

TRS struck back when left-center fielder Kyle Speer's RBI single ignited a three-run seventh inning, sealing the title victory.

Speer, who went 2-for-4 in the game, said patience at the plate led to the gaming-winning RBI.
"I just had to sit in the box and wait for the right pitch to come," Speer said. "It was nice and flat so I just hit it right in the gut."

After edging out FSS for the No. 1 seed in the base intramural playoffs and then falling short in its quest for the base championship, NIOC pitcher Ben Martinez said he is still proud of the team's accomplishments despite its shortcomings in the finals.

"We were hitting the ball all season, but tonight we just came out flat," Martinez said. "We will
improve, fix our errors, and go from here into the JBSA tournament."