MOUNT VERNON — A weekend full of action came down to one pivotal game on Sunday night for the Dixie Days 16-and-under championship. And, as fate would have it, two Ohio Lady Vipers teams were squaring off for the title at Memorial Park.
Playing into the early morning hours today, the older Ohio Vipers, managed by Homer Simmons, beat their younger counterparts, managed by Joe West, 5-1. It was the first time this summer the two teams have faced off in a tournament.
“This is the best we’ve played all season long,” said manager Simmons. “To be put up against the other Vipers team was a real treat for us. We’re very happy to get the win. ... It was nice because we are both Vipers teams. Everybody knows everybody.”
“This says a lot. Hopefully, the Vipers program continues to improve,” said manager West. “It is pretty neat that these two teams came together. We’ve been close a couple of times, but it never worked out that we were there together. It was kind of nice to do it here at home.”
Simmons’ Vipers wasted little time in getting on the scoreboard, posting a single run in the bottom of the second inning. Sonya Dulaney singled to lead off before Rachel Goeppinger sacrificed her to second. Bridget Dennis then hit an RBI single to left for a 1-0 lead. Vipers-West’s Britt Roden got out of the inning without more damage being done, however, after getting a pair of groundouts.
“(Getting the lead early) was huge,” said manager Simmons. “Psychologically, it was very important. We stayed up the whole game, which I though was because we got the momentum right off the bat.”
The older Vipers added three more runs in the top of the third, chasing Roden from the mound in the process. Roden walked Hayley Gray to lead off, and back-to-back errors combined with a wild pitch allowed Gray to score. Taylor Keener and Tessa Simmons reached on the errors, and Keener scored on a RBI groundout by Kate Reynolds for a 3-0 lead. Another error allowed Dulaney to reach and scored Simmons with the fourth run of the game before the inning ended.