By Scott Prater
After starting this softball season with four straight wins, National Reconnasaince Office Operations Squadron hit a bit of rough patch. The team, which at one point sat atop the Schriever intramural league standings, suddenly fell to fifth place thanks to a three-game losing skid.
“We weren’t hitting,” NOPS captain Gary Thomsen said. “Part of that is work related, because we couldn’t have our best players out here and we didn’t have any continuity at the time.”
NOPS jumped back on the winning path July 14 with a 22-4 victory over Space Innovation and Development Center.
Kevin Phillips led off by belting a pitch into shallow left field and his teammates followed with five more base hits. By the time SIDC had recorded the final out in the top half of the first, NOPS led 5-0.
“I think it was important for us to get off to a good start,” Thomsen said. “That way you don’t feel like you’re playing from behind all of the time.”
SIDC, playing minus five of its regular starters, responded with four runs of its own in the bottom half of the inning. SIDC short stop Louis Palacious reached on an error and Paul Burhans followed with a single into to left field. Bill Scruitsky and Carlos Diaz also drilled base hits into the outfield and Barry Witt drove them home with his double up the middle.
Those were the only runs SIDC could manage the rest of the way, however, and NOPS put the game out of reach with an 11-run outburst in the fifth inning.
“The thing that was most encouraging about today’s game was the way we managed to capitalize late in innings,” Thomsen said. “I think we scored seven of our 11 runs with two outs in the fifth.”
First baseman Adrian Cronkhite broke out of what he called a mini slump with a three-run triple in the fifth and drove in another run in the sixth.
“Well, I finally got my swing back,” Cronkhite said. “The last few games I haven’t been able to really hit the ball. I was dropping my back shoulder, but no one was hitting the last few games and it seems like we finally got our bats back.”
Shortstop Chris Beam was a double shy of hitting for the cycle. He collected four hits, scored four runs and drove in seven more.
“We just needed to come out here and have fun,” Beam said. “Adrian (Cronkhite) really stepped up today, Kevin Phillips went 4-for-4 as well and Don Hartlaub is always solid on the mound.”
With the win, NOPS held onto a tie for fifth place in the standings with a 6-3 record, while SIDC fell to 4-5 and seventh place.
In other softball action, 50th Space Communications Squadron handed 4th Space Operations Squadron its first loss of the season, knocking off 4th SOPS 19-12.