GALLATIN, TENNESSEE – Florida’s Village Vixens won the SPA 65 Major National senior softball crown in Gallatin, Tennessee but in doing so, they had to beat their next door neighbors the Golden Girls, who are also from the Village.
“That is pretty good and speaks well of the quality of play of the women’s teams from the Village,” Vixen coach Al Mahar said. “The Golden Girls beat us 17-16 in the second round of the double-elimination tournament and we had to come out of the loser’s bracket to beat them twice to win the championship.”
To get to the title game the Vixens edged their “neighbors” 12-11 setting the stage for the “winner take all” final. The champs erupted for seven hits and four runs in the sixth inning to take the title game 9-6.
The Golden Girls probably feel “snake bit” since in their 25 games against the Vixens the past two years they have only beaten them twice.
However, they aren’t the only women’s senior 65 team that feels that way about playing the Vixens. Since being formed two years ago the Village Vixens have gone 65-3 winning tournaments in Gallatin (2), Pensacola (2), Florida TOC, Fort Myers plus a few others.
“I would say we have won 15 of the 17 tournaments we have played in and took second place in the other two,” SPA 65 Major National Manager of the Year Mahar said.
The Vixens came into this year’s Gallatin tournament a little shorthanded with Tiny Cazel (broken wrist), Donna Mahailoff (broken ankle) and Brenda John all sidelined for the event. Despite missing three important members of the team the Vixens were still able to average 15.8 runs (127) in eight games while allowing an average of 7 (59 runs) and hitting at a .555 clip.
“Good hitting makes up for bad coaching and makes me look good,” Mahar said. “Our secret was hitting from top to bottom, with no weak spots in the order. Our bottom of the order hitters are just as lethal as the top of the order, every inning we have the potential of scoring the maximum five runs.”
Supporting Mahar’s claim about team balance, one only has to notice the Tournament MVP with a batting average of .727 was the 11th hitter in the batting order, Terri Skinner. Skinner also pitched and won seven games in the pool and tournament portions of the event.
All-Tournament players from the Vixens were Jeanne Harrington (.667), Aileen Laing (.704, 17 RBI’s), Linda Landry (.727), Bobbi Crocker (.739) and the president of the “Wendy Whiner’s Club”, Wendy Neff (.759).
“The Wendy Whiner’s Club was formed for those players who dispute my moves,” Mahar joked.
Others who were equally important to the championship run were Darlene Huntsinger (.655), Lee Dragon (15 RBI’s), Rose Muse (17 hits, .607), Karen Clausen (.800 first two games), Bev Morgan (solid tournament both in the field and at the plate), Karen Adams (outstanding defensive play) and speedster Dianna Rhea (.667).
Mahar is the first to admit running the team is more than a one person job.
“My wife Aileen is like the traveling secretary and handles all the travel arrangements , rooms and such,” Mahar said. “Tommy John is our assistant coach and does a great job for us.”
John ( Brenda), Mahar (Aileen Laing) and Tols Mahailoff (Donna) together are all part of a senior softball tournament oddity, When the Vixens (Brenda, Aileen, Donna) won the women’s 65 national TOC title the men also were on championship teams in the same tournament. John played with the 60AAA men’s winner while Tols was on the 60 major plus squad and Alan played for the 65 AAA winners.
The Vixens followed up the Gallatin title with a second place finish at the Huntsman senior games . Next on the squads agenda is the Fort Myers Winter Nationals in February.
“We’ve had a great year so far,” Mahar said, “but I feel the championship in Gallatin was our finest hour. We not only beat the Golden Girls twice but also beat the 65AAA champs Delaware Blue Chicks and west coast champs Arizona Queen Bee’s. Those were some very talented teams.”
“To come out of the loser’s bracket and have to beat your neighbors two times to win the championship is a tough chore,” Mahar added. “The ladies really stepped up their game, it was a great finish and I am proud of every one of them.”