1978 Chester County Ponytails named World Series Champions

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The 1978 Chester County Dixie Ponytails were given the title of the 1978 Ponytails Champions on Friday, July 9, 2021 due to their opponents cheating by using older players. Some of the team took a photo with Dixie Softball President Obie Evans after he gave them the winning banner and trophy. Pictured left to right is: Obie Evans, Sheila Welch, Mary Hemby Beshires, Sue Patterson Wells, Marsha Bain Barclay, Shirley Bain (Coach) Vera Holmes Reed and Maria Holmes Clayton.

The 1978 Chester County Dixie Ponytails were given the title of the 1978 Ponytails Champions on Friday, July 9 due to their opponents cheating by using older players. Dixie Softball President Obie Evans shared the full story of how everything has played out over the 43 years. Read his story below.

By Obie Evans
Dixie Softball President

The 1978 Chester County Dixie Ponytails were given the title of the 1978 Ponytails Champions on Friday, July 9 due to their opponents cheating by using older players. Dixie Softball President Obie Evans shared the full story of how everything has played out over the 43 years. Read his story below.
In 1978, Dixie Softball, Inc. had its 3rd Dixie Ponytails (12 and younger girls) World Series hosted by the Lake Wales, Florida Dixie Softball league. The Debs World Series was being played there too.
The Chester County, Tennessee Ponytails team drew the Host team, Lake Wales, in the first round of games that were played. Chester County defeated the Host team handily. The Lake Wales team dropped to the lower bracket and worked themselves into the finals of the Ponytails World Series. Chester County was undefeated, so the Host Lake Wales team had to beat Chester County twice in order to win the World Series. They did just that.
Following the final game, Chester County’s head coach, Shirley Bains, came up to me and told me that the Lake Wales team her team played in the finals were not the same Lake Wales team that Chester County had played the in the first game of the World Series. She could not prove it at the time so the Ponytails World Series Championship was awarded to the Host team, Lake Wales. I often wondered why Chester County did not push the issue further but I found out why just this past weekend in Henderson at the state tournaments Chester County was hosting. Mrs. Bain told me that the next day following the Ponytails World Series, the new middle (?) school in Henderson was having its grand opening and the players and parents wanted to be there. They drove overnight to get back to Chester County and the results of the 1978 Ponytails World Series Championship went dormant. But Shirley’s words never left by thoughts.
Even though I founded Dixie Softball in 1968 and incorporated it in 1975, I refused to be the president. In 1978, I was asked to become the president by a number of the Dixie Softball, Inc. board of directors and I agreed. So, 1978 was my first year to serve as president of Dixie Softball.
Just a few years ago, I was in Brooksville, Florida for their state tournaments. I overheard some ladies talking and I heard the name “Lake Wales” come up. I went over to the ladies and asked if I had heard the name “Lake Wales” brought up. One lady said, “Yes you did. I am from Lake Wales and my daughter played in a Dixie Softball World Series there.” I told her that I was there. I also told her that I heard that the Lake Wales league president at the time had taken all the league’s finances with him along with the World Series trophy and banner that had been presented to her daughter’s team. She answered, “Yes he did and that is not all that he did.” I asked her what else did he do, like what he had already done wasn’t bad enough. She told me that the league president had brought in girls from their Belles (15 and younger) team to take the place of some of the girls on the Lake Wales Ponytails World Series team.
All Lake Wales teams wore the same style of uniforms so getting proper fitting uniforms was no problem. It was these 15 and younger girls that were able to come back through the bracket and win the 1978 Ponytails (12 and younger girls) World Series. I asked the lady why did they allow that to happen. She could only say that she assumed that the other parents were scared to say anything.
I asked her if she would sign something to attest to what she said. She said she would but I never asked her too. I felt she was telling the truth.
So, I went to work with James A. Webb of Henderson, who was a long time national board member of Dixie Softball, to see what we could do to make the situation correct. We started 3 years ago. COVID-19 messed up 2020 when we were going to make the presentation. James told me that Chester County would be hosting some state tournaments this year and we decided that that would be a good time for the presentation.
It was a perfect time. Great weather, good crowd and Shirley Bain and some of the girls of the 1978 Chester County Ponytails team were there. A least one other girl would have been there but her granddaughter was playing in a Dixie Softball tournament in Wayne County and she could not be there. It was good to see the daughters of the late Don Holmes there. Don was the assistant coach of the Ponytails team.
They told me later that their father had told them, “Girls just don’t grow 6 inches in a few days.” Meaning, he knew these were not the same players the Chester County Ponytails had played against just a few days before. I told them that when they visited his grave the next time to tell him that Dixie Softball fixed the problem. A little late, but we “got it done!”
This got something off my chest that had been there for 43 years that needed to be off. I can’t help but wonder if any other girl’s softball program would have done that for a league in their program. I know some of the programs in and around Tennessee today would not have.
I was so proud to have presented the Chester County Ponytails team of 1978 their Championship trophy and banner that they should have received 43 years earlier. Chester County was the very first league in Tennessee to join Dixie Softball.
Chester County has always held a special place in my heart. A lot of good friends of Chester County, living and passed on, hold fond memories for me.
Be proud Chester County. Let’s put that trophy and banner in a place where ALL can see what they have been missing for 43 years.

Pictured is Lora McNeal who was also on the 1978 Chester County Ponytails team.

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