September 11, 2014 --
Focusing her eyes on the yellow softball, her hands gripping the bat, Sgt. Candice Clark belted one after another into the outfield on one of Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany’s baseball fields.
The recent practice helped hone her skills for the All-Marine Women’s Softball Team tryouts at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
The 26-year-old Marine from Warner Robins, Georgia, who considers the American pastime in her blood, seized an opportunity to continue playing the sport she loves. She sent her application — her command information, her sports résumé and her command’s permission — to Marine Corps Community Services here for the team tryouts.
Clark has been at Fort Sill since Sept. 3 showcasing her abilities at the team tryouts.
If selected for the All-Marine Women’s Softball Team, Clark and her teammates will face other branches of service during a one-week triple round robin tournament there, Sunday - Sept. 19.
According to Marine Administrative Message 122/14, Marines could then be selected for the Armed Forces teams and will participate in the National Men’s and Women’s Softball Championships, Sept. 25-29, at Edmond, Oklahoma. The Armed Forces team is comprised of representatives from all branches of service.
An operations noncommissioned officer with Marine Corps Systems Command, she talked about her upcoming experience before she left here.
“I’ve always loved sports,” Clark said. “It will be an honor to represent the Marine Corps and Albany. This experience is very meaningful to me. I think it’s very important that I go because I’ve spent a lot of time in softball, so I think I owe it to myself to continue to play if the opportunity presents itself.
“What I’m looking forward to learning about myself when I get there is it’s been a long time since I’ve actually focused and practiced playing softball,” she continued. “In intramurals I went out and played the game, but this is going to be serious, competitive, get down in the dirt softball. I’m interested to see how well I will play when I get up there versus in the past.”
Clark recommended her peers sign up for the All-Marine Women’s Softball Team next year.
“I advise female Marines to sign up for All-Marine softball because I don’t know if a lot of them think it’s going to be really hard or playing against these really competitive people and that kind of shies them off from signing up, but I think if you have some skill at least give it a try. At least go try it out because you might surprise yourself on how well you’ll do.
“When I get back I’ll make sure I’ll let everybody know about my experiences with All-Marine softball and how it has helped me,” Clark added. “It’s going to be interesting to interact and travel and get to see other branches outside of the Marine Corps.”
She reminisced about her love of the game that began when she was very young.
“I started playing T-ball when I was 5,” Clark said. “I started playing softball when I was maybe 10. Then I played slow pitch softball through middle school — sixth, seventh and eighth grade — as a pitcher and then I played fast pitch at Houston County High School, Warner Robins, Georgia, for four years. I graduated in 2006 and I played third base in my ninth and tenth grade years and then I played left field my eleventh and twelfth grade years.”
Two years later, she pitched for the slow pitch intramural co-ed softball team at Georgia College and State University, Milledgeville, Georgia.
Her thirst for the sport didn’t end there, and a year after joining the Marine Corps, while stationed at Camp Johnson, North Carolina, she played in the Women’s League at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, during the summer of 2012.
Clark arrived at MCLB Albany in 2013, and that summer as well as this year, played intramural co-ed softball as center field, right and left centers for SYSCOM.
The SYSCOM Sluggers placed fourth in MCLB Albany’s 2014 intramural softball season with a 4-7 record.
“Softball was something I always liked to play for fun,” Clark, who has two sisters and three brothers, said. “My mom signed me up (for T-ball) and everything you could possible think of she put us in it. If we wanted to continue to do it or we were good at it, we continued doing it from that point, so since I was 5 I’ve been playing sports.”
Recognizing her talent after he’s seen her play intramural softball here, Anthony Hawkins, program analyst, Logistics Capabilities Center, Marine Corps Logistics Command, suggested Clark apply for the team.
Hawkins coached Clark on her hitting and fielding before she left for Oklahoma and believed she has the ability to make the All-Marine and the All-Armed Forces teams.
“She has to stay focused and maintain her competitiveness,” he said. “She has speed for the outfield. She has a good arm to get the ball from the outfield to the infield. She has a nice line drive stroke. She’s a good hitter.”
Hawkins echoed Clark about it being “rewarding to represent the Marine Corps. I think she’ll make the team and it will add to her skill set because she’s going to compete against a lot of women in the other branches (of service) and most of the women in the other branches have played college ball and now they’re in the armed forces.”
He passed some of his knowledge to her during their practice sessions and stressed that she “always keep her eye on the ball, always be conscious of the situation of the game and hit the cutoff. It’s an honor to make the All-Marine team and I think she’ll do well if she keeps her head straight and stays focused, being engaged in the game.”