MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. - --
A loud crack echoed through the air as a softball soared down the field while the coach for the All-Marine Women’s Softball Team whistled with respect at the power of the hit during the team’s screening at the Combat Center’s Felix Field July 29.
The assessment was set up by Daniel Sullivan, the coach for the All-Marine team, and his wife, Debra, an administrative assistant for Marine Corps Community Services Semper Fit Division, to give active duty and reserve female Marines a chance to try out for the All-Marine Trial Camp in Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C., from Aug. 28 through Sept. 24.
During the screening, the players were evaluated on their hitting and fielding skills, and their knowledge of the sport, said Debra Sullivan, a Clifton, Ariz., native.
“This is getting their foot in the door,” said Daniel, a retired master gunnery sergeant, and Columbus, Ohio native. “It doesn’t mean they will make the All-Marine team.”
Lance Cpl. Katherine Smith, an administrative clerk at the Installation Personnel Administration Center, who played with the All-Marine Women’s Softball Team in 2007, said she did well during the screening but felt her hitting needed to improve.
“Coach told me to bite my shirt when I am hitting,” said the Modesto, Calif., native. “When I tried it I felt why I was hitting pop-fly balls – I was leaning back and dropping my shoulder and the shirt ripped out of my teeth.”
The players who showed enough skill July 29 will be given a resume to fill out, and will be allowed to go to the All-Marine Trial Camp. Female Marines from throughout the Marine Corps will attend the camp and the least skilled players will be weeded out until only 15 of the best remain.
“These girls can do the math,” Daniel Sullivan said. “They know only 15 players will make the team, so they know they have to step up their game and play their best.”
After the camp, the Marines chosen to play on the All-Marine team will participate in an Armed Forces tournament in Pensacola, Fla., where they will compete against the Navy, Army and Air Force.