The Blaze 200-8
Southern Vipers 203-5
Southern Vipers won by five wickets
Emily Windsor again led Southern Vipers to cup glory in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy final at Wantage Road.
Her sparkling 57 off 53 balls helped Vipers to chase down a target of 201 to beat the Blaze with five wickets and 46 balls to spare.
Vipers had won the toss and elected to bowl in a match reduced to 48 overs a side.
Windsor played a similar hand for Vipers against Northern Diamonds on this ground in 2021 when her side won the same trophy by just three wickets.
This latest victory continues a remarkable record for Vipers in Northampton coming after their success in last year’s Charlotte Edwards Cup and brings them their third 50-over title in the past four years.
It completes a remarkable double for the south coast team this season after they dispatched the same opposition in the Charlotte Edwards Cup final in June.
Windsor, well supported by Freya Kemp (32 off 35), took charge after Northamptonshire leg-spinner Josie Groves claimed three wickets in eight balls to give the Blaze real hope.
Groves made the crucial breakthrough to end a dangerous stand of 96 between former England all-rounder Georgia Elwiss (50) and skipper Georgia Adams (39) before also picking up Charlie Dean.
But Windsor and Kemp more than kept up with the required run rate in a stand of 94 off 84 balls and, while Windsor was dropped on 46 with 15 still needed, they reached their target with no more scares.
Earlier, England opener Tammy Beaumont hit a battling 76 (104 balls) to lead a Blaze fightback after left-arm spinner Linsey Smith (3-30) struck twice in the second over of the day.
Profiting from two dropped catches, Beaumont grew more fluent, striking eight boundaries and forging a 48-run partnership with Sophie Munro (33). This enabled the Blaze to push up towards 200 in a match reduced to 48 overs a side.
The Blaze were put into bat in damp conditions on a slow surface taking spin and Smith soon reduced them to 6-2. Her first delivery trapped Lizelle Lee lbw before Marie Kelly carved a short, wide delivery straight to extra cover.
Beaumont looked to settle Blaze nerves, responding with boundaries on both side of the wicket against Mary Taylor as she rebuilt first in a partnership of 39 with Sarah Bryce (15) before the Scottish international was bowled between bat and pad in Dean’s first over.
Georgie Boyce (12) took consecutive boundaries off Dean (2-27) before Adams (2-43) tossed one up, the ball dipping to strike Boyce in front of the stumps to earn Vipers a fourth wicket.
Kathryn Bryce (12) helped steady the ship in a stand of 40 with Beaumont before she too fell, caught behind attempting to cut Taylor. It left the Blaze five down for 106 and in need of a lengthy partnership to set some kind of target.
With weather improving and batting becoming easier, Sophie Munro answered the call, combining with Beaumont across 11 overs. Beaumont hit her stride after enjoying some moments of luck early doors.
On 14, she drilled a delivery from Smith hard down back the pitch but the bowler could not hold on. Then when she reached 31, Adams put down a much simpler caught and bowled chance.
Beaumont started to time the ball more sweetly, playing the late cut to good effect and using her feet to thread the ball into the gaps, hitting over long-on and driving down the pitch.
Finally, facing Dean, she was unable to clear the ring once more and could only pick out Adams at mid-off.
Higham followed shortly afterwards, bowled by Smith, before Munro was trapped plumb in front by Adams. Skipper Kirstie Gordon (21) played a handy knock at the end, swinging Adams high over deep midwicket for six to propel the Blaze up to 200.
In the chase, Grace Ballinger was pacy, accurate and found some away swing, a combination which proved impossible for the batters to score off. She bowled a superb opening five-over spell in the powerplay, three of them maidens, conceding just two runs in the process.
At the other end, Kathryn Bryce made a double breakthrough with a wicket in each of her opening overs.
First, she snared Ella McCaughan (0), the leading edge flying to Gordon who took a stunning sliding, one-handed catch at mid-off. Then she accounted for in-form England opener Maia Bouchier adjudged lbw for just 2 to leave Vipers on 4-2.
Elwiss though was soon into her work, taking two consecutive boundaries off Bryce and picking up six boundaries around the ground.
Adams, who survived dropped chances on 13 and 34, was content to play the anchor role but she too found the boundary boards, skipping down the track to clip Higham through long-on.
A drinks break provided the reset the Blaze needed thanks to Groves’s double strike. First Elwiss departed immediately after posting her half-century, caught behind. Adams was bowled three balls later before Dean fell lbw.
But Windsor was positive from the start, taking little time to play herself in, hitting nine boundaries, finding scoring options down to third and fine leg and driving through cover.
She brought up her half-century by driving Higham down the ground for four and then hit the winning runs through extra cover.