The Virginia Vipers Softball Club for Veterans had another great season in 2016. The organization sponsored one spring open team, one summer open team, two Senior teams and one fall Seniors team and a fall open team. Additionally, the organization supported the routinely successful Herndon Over 40 squad. This year, Fairfax Adult Softball suspended “35-and-older” play. We appreciate all of our sponsors who have helped us since 1997 create this fabulous group supporting our active military, veterans and their spouses. Thank you.
The 2016 Five Sided Vipers named appropriately because the core of this team met while serving at the Pentagon had a solid season. The Five Sided Vipers took 2nd in the Fairfax Adult Softball Wednesday Night Division 2 league going, 13-6-1. The tie ended up being a real issue for the Vipers trying to win the division as that tie was against the eventual division winners. The team lost their starting SS in game one due to a broken leg – Matt White – was out for the season and the Vipers rotated various players into that critical position for the entire season. Additionally, the team lost starting 3rd baseman to work on the West Coast; Jimmy Sneed’s bat was sorely missed. However, solid play from Jim Ragusa, Wes Poyner and Matt Benoit kept the team competitive. Dennis Roberts with his new svelte body was a significant contributor and as always Nicky “Bitch” Bartoo was a great utility player throughout the season. The Five Sided Vipers look forward to continuing their string of success in 2017 with this great group of players.
When FAS suspended the 35-and-older division, the Five Sided Vipers made a summer appearance under coaches Nick Bartoo and Mike Gizara. While this team didn’t win the division, it highlighted the passion and intensity that Virginia Vipers’ Veterans bring to their softball experience. In five different games, the Vipers found themselves down, but not out. Exciting comeback victories, usually by having big, team-effort rallies in the final inning, allowed the Vipers to further gel as a team an enjoy the summer evenings. In one particular game, Viper Veterans scored 14 whopping runs in a single inning, an unofficial Virginia Vipers record. Every man on the 11-player roster got on base at least once, and nearly all scored a run. The Vipers enjoyed refreshments at sponsor Kilroys following that event! This team’s starting pitcher was Dennis Roberts, who brings 100% effort and a great attitude to every game. His sense of humor and baseball accumen makes him a great on-field leader of this team. Our rock at first base, Chris Benoit, continued to have a hot left-handed bat and swat many, many extra base hits. “Tyler too” at second base had a steady season defensively and found a new swing that cuts the rock. Shortstop was a bit of a round robin effort, but Dave Obst, SuperDave Schaeffer, along with some senior team subs helped us muddle through. Over at third, Martyball Chavez held things down. The outfield was anchored by Scott Walsh, Matt Benoit, Wes Poyner, Dave Massey, and Jim Ragusa. This version of the Vipers also welcomed two new players: Bradley Harris and Bryce Dibble – Active Air Force – joined the team and immediately added much needed break-neck speed and good gloves to the roster. As time wore on we found out they could also both hit. Welcome to the team, guys. The Summer Open team would also like to thank the many Vipers players from other teams who subbed for this team during summer vacation and injury shortages.
The Over 40 Vipers had another very successful year in the Herndon Over-40-league. While we did not manage to win our second straight regular season title we did manage a respectable second place finish with an 18-6 record. We finished second to our longtime nemesis Glory Days who won the division with a 19-5 record. We split our 6 games with Glory Days going 3-3 in what has become an outstanding rivalry over our five seasons in Herndon. The season was a particularly rough one for injuries on and off the field. We had to play the majority of the season without one of our best friends and players, Sean Shemanski. Sean was hospitalized for several weeks and while he is recovering we continue to have him in our thoughts and prayers. We hope to see you out there again in 2017 Sean! We look forward to continuing our rivalry next year and feel 2017 we see us once again at the top of the division.
The Long Fanged Vipers under the coaching prowess of Nolan Rubin took the D2 crown again in 2016 at 16-3-1. As a competitive Seniors team, the LFV decided to play in the D1 competition for the playoffs and did extremely well. As a four seed in the tournament, the Vipers went to the D1 championship game knocking off two teams that had a higher seed. The LFV efforts render them the 2nd best team in all of FAS Senior competition. The LFV will be a D1 team exclusively next year. Great efforts from Bob Barnes, Milan Piech and Darrell Henning were key to the LFV doing so well. Additionally, “new comers” Kevin Campbell and pitchers Dan Pease and Bill Watts were super additions to the squad. This summer Senior’s team was incredibly fun and are excited about their future in D1.
The Long Fanged Viper Division 2 Champions from 2015 added players to their roster from Viper players that “came of age” this year. The Vipers realized that we needed to have 2 Senior teams to support the increasing demand of player participation. The Vintage Vipers were created in 2016 from the Long Fanged Vipers and a new recruiting effort. With the demands of scheduling, injuries and player availability the concept of “sharing players between rosters” was born. The Vintage Vipers competed in Division 4 and went 17 – 3 and won the Division Tournament by sweeping it to finish the season with an overall record of 20 – 3. We look forward to 2017 and competing at the next level and rejoining forces with the long Fanged Vipers.
After a champion summer season the LFV were moved up into D 1 this Fall. We finished in second place with a 6 and 6 record. We proved to play at a highly competitive level throughout the season. Victories were achieved against all of our foes including taking 3 of 4 from 1st place Spare Parts. Having added several key new players this season, we quickly became a cohesive team in less than 5 months. Attitudes and camaraderie were apparent with mutual support of each other. Our entire line up contributed with superb fielding, rifle throws and timely hitting. We have served notice to D1 that we are a team to reckon with next season. We anticipate everyone will be returning next season and are planning a fall/winter meeting/celebration. Truly a pleasure to spend Monday evenings and to manage such a great group.
The Five Sided Vipers continued our momentum into the Fall playing in the Men’s T3 Open Division, and coming in 3d place. The same crew that participated in the spring returned in the fall, with an occasional appearance by “Ole Man” John Kulifay and Steve Elson, who only showed up for pictures. The team endured several games of hot and rainy nights with foul weather which ended up challenging FAS with field availability, as a result we played in almost every park in the county – Beulah, Braddock, Wakefield, and even Mason District. Our most impressive accomplishment this fall was leading the league in defense by only allowing 127 runs in 14 games. As always we displayed outstanding sportsmanship and maintained our comradery on and off the field with beverages in the parking lot and an occasional trip to Chile’s. As we depart for the off season, we will all stay in touch, see each other at fundraisers, and prepare for another outstanding Viper season in the Spring of 2017.