USS Russell
"Strength in Freedom"
USS Russell Wins Intramural Basketball, Softball Championships

San Diego – The softball and basketball teams from the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Russell’s (DDG 59) clinched divisional championships in their respective Naval Base San Diego (NBSD) intramural leagues at the Admiral Prout Gym Facilities Dec. 7.

For Russell’s softball team, the victory was the culmination of months of training and team preparation.

The team was first assembled to participate in the Portland Rose Festival softball tournament this spring. Throughout the summer, they held regular practices in preparation for the beginning of the NBSD season in early October. During the regular season, the Russell team compiled a record of seven wins and four losses, winning games against USS Essex (LHD 2), USS Mobile Bay (CG 53), and Naval Air Station North Island (NASNI), among others.

Petty Officer First Class Christian Puentes found Russell Sailors to be a passionate team, “Our team demonstrated resiliency and tenacity game-in and game-out over a long season; I was proud to be able to coach such a motivated group.”

Their record was enough to earn the playoff berth and begin the post season. In the final, they came from behind, scoring three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to take the lead and then shut out Naval Amphibious Base Coronado in the top of the seventh to secure a long-awaited victory.

As Russell’s softball team faced challenging opposition throughout their season, so did its basketball squad. After a successful Surface Line Week, during which Russell’s team won the basketball competition, the beginning of their NBSD league season was marked by difficulty playing effectively as a team.

“We weren’t communicating well and we allowed ourselves to play as individuals, which led to few avoidable losses,” said Petty Officer Third Class Kervine Simonis. “We finished the regular season four and four, but were playing as a team by the beginning of the playoffs.”

Once in the playoffs, Russell’s team excelled. They won their first two games to propel themselves to the championship. Finally, in the championship, game Russell cemented their title with a hard fought victory against Essex.

“The game got off to a fast start and was close throughout which led to overtime,” said Seaman Edward English. “Thanks to some key shots and free throws we were able to take home the title.”

For the Russell Sailors who participated on these two sports teams, the leagues were an opportunity to bond with each other and spend some time competing on the court and the field.

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