0809 Dixie Ponytails World Series champs photo

Members of the Dothan National Ponytails state championship team: Jassy Andrews, Charlee Chandler, Harmoni Descalzi, Tionna Edwards, Sara Harris, Kaleigh Heard, Ava Claire Johnson, Tylaya Lingo, Mallory Magrino, Mary Helen Mendheim, Maddie Norris and Maya Swope. Coaches Cliff Mendheim, Mike Palmer and Scotty Lingo.

With the sun setting in the Texas sky, Dothan National head coach Scotty Lingo and his assistant coaches had some words of wisdom for their softball team.

“We got the girls smiling and we said, ‘We came to have fun. When we have fun, we win,’” Lingo said.

And they did.

Dothan National defeated host team Hopkins County, Texas, 13-3 late Wednesday night to win the championship in the Ponytails (ages 11-12) X-Play World Series.

Hopkins County had forced an if-necessary game earlier in the evening by handing Dothan its first loss of the tournament, 6-4, to force the extra game.

“We had that game where we lost and honestly I thought we were the most talented team there,” Lingo said. “We had a little bit of breakdown. To me, we honestly played at our worst and they still barely beat us then.”

In the finale, Dothan jumped out to a 4-0 advantage in the first inning and never looked back. Dothan added four runs in the fourth and five runs in the fifth to put it away. Hopkins County scored two in the fourth and one in the fifth.

“It was really like a dream come true,” Lingo said. “All the hard work of these girls taking their whole summer and dedicating it to softball and representing Dothan and the state of Alabama – I couldn’t be more proud of these girls.”

Lingo said the team of all-stars meshed like a family.

“Not just the kids, but the parents,” Lingo said of the unity. “It was like a true family – like I had 12 daughters. My coaches are like brothers. We bonded, you know? The tightness of the team is what made this team so special.”

Dothan, the Alabama state champion, went 6-1 in the tournament and dominated most of the way. After beating the Texas state champs 11-9 in the opener, Dothan defeated Virginia (14-1), Hopkins County (12-4), South Carolina (13-4) and Tennessee (16-2) before squaring off against Hopkins County twice in the finals.

The last time Dothan won the Dixie Ponytails World Series was in 2007 in Marianna, Fla. Former Dothan High, Auburn University and Team USA star Kasey Cooper was a member of that team. She even called the Dothan team Wednesday night before their championship games to encourage them.

Charlee Chandler picked up the win in the circle in the deciding game. She allowed one hit in three innings of work and recorded two strikeouts. Kaleigh Heard pitched the final two innings and allowed two hits and struck out one.

Tylala Lingo had three hits, including a double, with an RBI. Sara Harris doubled in two runs and Jaslyn Andrews drove in two runs with a hit. Mallory Magrino had two hits and an RBI. Chandler had a hit and an RBI and Maya Swope had an RBI. Tionna Edwards had two hits and Mary Helen Mendheim contributed a hit.

In the earlier loss to Hopkins County, Dothan was led by Maddie Norris with a two-run homer. Heard had two hits and an RBI.

Follow Jon Johnson on Twitter @eaglesportsed

I've been sports editor of the Dothan Eagle since 1988.

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