MOUNT VERNON — Old mo’ can be a funny thing.
A good play here or a bad play there can turn momentum around in a hurry, enabling a team to do something it didn’t think was possible just a few minutes before.
The Ohio Lady Vipers saw that firsthand this weekend.
The 14-and-under All-Stars lost two close games Saturday in pool play of the 2009 Dixie Days Tournament, but a win in the nightcap gave them all they needed — momentum wise — to roll to three straight victories Sunday. The third victory, a 4-3 decision over the St. Louisville Redskins, gave the Vipers their first tournament title.
“We had a rough day [Saturday],” said Vipers head coach Joe West. “But, we came out in the last pool play game and played real well. We took a lot of that momentum into today.”
It didn’t look well early for the Vipers in the championship game. Redkins’ pitcher Sarah Bandy was able to keep the Vipers from mounting any kind of charge in the first two innings. The Vipers looked like they might get to Bandy in the third, getting a single from Jasmine Drabick and a walk from Kayla Page with one out. But Drabick was thrown out attempting to steal third, and a great running catch by Redskins’ shortstop Holly Eggleton ended the threat.
The Redskins, after threatening offensively in the second, finally broke through in the fourth to break the scoreless tie.
Laura Caron reached safely on an error, then moved to second on a wild pitch. Caron scored when Bandy smacked a single into center field. Bandy was able to move to third when the ball was misplayed, then scored on a single by Eggleton.
St. Louisville threatened again in the fifth, getting Courtney Plaisted to third base after a walk, sacrifice and wild pitch. But Vipers’ relief pitcher Molly Chacey was able to coax a pop-out to end the inning.
The Vipers got it going in the bottom half of the fifth, thanks to a couple of misplays by St. Louisville. Ashley Fowler reached first safely on a strikeout and an error. Two quick outs made it look like the Redskins might get out of another jam, but an error opened the door for the Vipers.
Kayla West reached safely on the error, which also allowed Fowler to score. Chacey followed that up with a single, scoring West. Kristen Bender walked and two wild pitches pushed across another run for the Vipers. Maggie Hale then singled to drive in Bender with what proved to be the game winner.
“Our hitters came up big today,” said coach West. “This was a big win to come back against a team that completely shut us down [4-0] yesterday.”
The Redskins didn’t go quietly, though.
Laura Caron singled and Court Lambert walked in the sixth, but were stranded there. Then, in the seventh, Plaisted tripled with one out, then scored on a groundout by Alyssa Ehlers. Sara Christ then singled, but Chacey was able to coax another groundout to end the threat and hand the Vipers the title.
“We fought hard — we just needed a couple more hits,” said Redskins coach Dan Caron. “This hurts. We’ve been going at this since the last week in May. We’ve got girls from four schools — Utica, Granville, Sheridan and Mount Vernon. For those girls to come in and play together and band together, it’s quite an accomplishment. We were definitely in the game. It was a good tournament for us.”
Drabick and Hale each had two singles to lead the Vipers. Kayla West, Chacey, Bender and Nikkiey McDonald added one single each.
Brittany Roden started on the mound for the Vipers. She struck out three and walked one while allowing two hits and two runs in 3 2/3 innings of work. Chacey finished up, fanning three while giving up four hits and two walks.
“This is a great group. They’ve worked real hard,” said coach West. “I’m very proud of the girls.”
Laura Caron stroked two singles to lead the Redskins. Plaisted added a triple, while Christ, Bandy and Eggleton all singled.
Bandy started on the mound for St. Louisville, striking out one, walking two and allowing eight hits in five innings of work. Plaisted finished up, allowing one hit.