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Airmen Shining on the Diamond

Wing One won the Montana State Championship for their division.

Members of the Malmstrom Air Force Base men’s softball team, Wing One, pose for a picture. Wing One won the Montana State Championship for their division. (Photo courtesy of Allen Hunter)

King served as both a coach and a player for Malmstrom Air Force Base’s men’s softball team.

Staff Sgt. Ethan King, 841st Missile Security Forces Squadron, coaches from the dugout during a men’s softball game. King served as both a coach and a player for Malmstrom Air Force Base’s men’s softball team. (Photo courtesy of Allen Hunter)

Malmstrom Air Force Base’s men’s softball took sixth place in the Military Band-Aid Softball Tournament, the second largest military softball tournament in the world.

Scott Johns, 341st Civil Engineer Squadron, steps to the plate to bat during a men’s softball game. Malmstrom Air Force Base’s men’s softball took sixth place in the Military Band-Aid Softball Tournament, the second largest military softball tournament in the world. (Photo courtesy of Allen Hunter)

Malmstrom Air Force Base’s men’s softball team claimed the Class C state championship with a 20-12 win over a team from Butte, Mont.

Staff Sgt. Alex Taylor, 341st Missile Security Forces Squadron, makes a play during a men’s softball game. Malmstrom Air Force Base’s men’s softball team claimed the Class C state championship with a 20-12 win over a team from Butte, Mont. (Photo courtesy of Allen Hunter)

MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. -- Dreams of sharing a platform with champions like Michael Jordan, Mia Hamm or Babe Ruth run through the minds of many young athletes.

Recently, several Airmen at Malmstrom Air Force Base ascended toward this plateau.

Last month Malmstrom’s men’s softball team, Wing One, became the state champions for their division.

“State championships are hard to come by,” said team member and veteran player Scott Johns, 341st Civil Engineer Squadron. “For some of these guys, they may never get another shot at one.”

The tournament, held Aug. 11-12 in Anaconda, Montana, hosted the state’s top nine Class C men’s softball teams. Malmstrom’s team won four games at the tournament, enough for them to garner the title of state champions.

The journey to the championship was not an easy task, however.
With conflicting work schedules, members of the team had to sacrifice practice and miss some tournaments. But even through this, the team managed to field a team successfully.

“Military teams have been tried before and have failed miserably, but we were able to make it work,” said Johns.

On top of the conflicting schedules, the team hit roadblocks at other tournaments throughout the season.

“All year we struggled to find success at tournaments,” said Staff Sgt. Ethan King, 841st Missile Security Forces Squadron. “But when the state championship rolled around, everything clicked.”

While the road to the championship wasn’t always smooth, it did bring the team closer together.

“Like in a unit, you’re only as good as the team around you,” said Staff Sgt. Alex Taylor, 341st MSFS. “We played off of each other.”

Among the tournaments where they found success was the Military Band-Aid Softball Tournament in Colorado Springs, Colo., June 7-10. It is the second largest military softball tournament in the world.

“The top military teams from all branches gather for a three-day tournament,” said Johns. “Fifty-seven teams were there and we ended up taking sixth [place].”

Like most athletes, the goal is to leave the field with a win. But beyond the game, relationships and bonds are what players really cherish.

“We go out on the field and just have fun,” said King. “Jobs and ranks don’t matter out there.”

“One minute you can be upset and the next all is forgotten and you're having a drink together like nothing happened,” said Johns. “It’s most definitely a brotherhood.”

With the season having come to an end, the team can hang up their cleats and hide away their mitts until next year. Until then, they can proudly hold the title of reigning state champions.
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