776th faces Kingsport company in Fort Campbell softball tournament

By Abby Morris
Star Staff
amorris@starhq.com

   The smell of the grass. The crack of the bat as it sends a homerun over the left field wall. The cheers, or jeers, of the fans. These are all sounds that are associated with the national pastime sport of baseball and its relative, softball. But for some, it is a way to fight the loneliness of being away from home.
   Members of the 776th Maintenance Company of the U.S. National Guard Army, as well as members of other military units currently stationed at Fort Campbell, have found some solace on the field as they await orders at the military base.
   "After working all these long days, people wanted to get together and have a little camaraderie and break up the stress and monotony of the everyday activities," said Spc. Richard Gabriel, of the 776th Maintenance Company. "It relieves a little of the stress of being away from home and the long days."
   According to Gabriel, members of the military units stationed at Fort Campbell have formed softball teams within their units and last week participated in a tournament. "On the 27th of May, the Ft. Campbell softball tournaments were held for the units stationed at the military post," Gabriel said. "The random drawings would have been routine except that the drawing brought together the teams from Elizabethton to play against the team from Kingsport."
   It was luck that brought these two local units to play against each other, Gabriel said. "Everyone was kind of shocked," he said. "They did a drawing like a lottery and you didn't even know who you were playing until about 15 minutes before the game."
   The team of "Brown's Bashers" from the 776th Maintenance Company played the team from Kingsport's 639th Transportation Company in the first game between the two units. According to Gabriel, who played shortstop and right field for the Basher's, the game was hard fought and the lead changed hands several times before the Basher's pulled ahead to defeat the 639th Transportation Company team with a score of 16-8.
   The second game played was against the 776th Maintenance Company Detail 1 team from Mountain City called "Jesse's Outlaws" against the 639th Transportation Company team. "The game was hard fought and involved heavy jeering and teasing from both sides as the evening wore on," Gabriel said. The final score on that game had the 639th Transportation Company going over the Outlaws 25-18.
   Gabriel said that one of the most enjoyable parts of participating in the tournament for him was the cheering and jeering during the game. "It helps you be able to forget where you are for a while. To know that you're not alone, that there are other people in the same boat you're in because sometimes you feel really alone."
   Another aspect of the tournament that Gabriel enjoyed was getting to meet people from the different military units at the base. "The camaraderie we have with each other is great," he said. "Getting to meet new people and find out about their homes and lives."
   Gabriel said that a total of 10 different teams from the units at Fort Campbell participated in the tournament. "We were the only ones that had names on our jerseys," he said of the Basher's and the Outlaws.
   According to Gabriel, a team from another unit won the tournament, but the games were still fun for all those involved. The teams had been practicing and playing games in the evenings after they finished their day's work for approximately a month before the tournament began, Gabriel said.
   Team rosters:
   Brown's Basher's: Larry Brown, coach; Eric Blevins; Chad Foran; Richard Gabriel; Zsa Thompson; Jeff Smithpeters; Chris Fair; Roy Davis; Jason Peters; Brian Edwards; John Hawthorne; Jody Baxter; Theresa Taylor; Lisa Winters; Joe Garland; Steven Lamb; and Kenneth King from the 771st MT. Co. Columbia, Tenn., attached to 776th.
   Jesse's Outlaws: Jess Wilhoit, coach, Dennis Erwin; Jeff Bradley; Richard Markland; David Fritz; Chris Davis; Steven Roark; George Light; Jess Southerland; John Lunceford; Jeff Garland; David Joyner; Christopher Pierce; Pete Hayner; James Dugger; Brian Aikins; Tim Clevenger; Carrie Henry; Gerald Jenkins; Richard Blevins and Terry Cannon.