Boston High School: Tanisha Sanders

Recap: Hampshire Regional 12, Turners Falls 0

May, 16, 2013
5/16/13
1:26
AM ET
WESTHAMPTON, Mass. _ Nine days ago, Hampshire Regional was throughly embarrassed. The Red Raiders were beaten handily by Turners Fall High School 15-2 in Montague. For seven-year head coach Brian McGan, it marked the first time he had encountered a mercy-ruled defeat.

On Wednesday, the two softball powers met again. Only this time, it was Hampshire who had the last laugh. The old adage ‘what goes around comes around’ proved never more effective as the Red Raiders throttled the Indians 12-0 in a five-inning, mercy-ruled victory.

Still stinging from that defeat, the Red Raiders entered this contest with a purpose. They wasted little time exorcizing the demons of a week ago after scoring four runs in the first, and putting this one well out of reach with a six run third.

“We were ready to play and we brought it today,” said Hampshire pitcher Ashlee McGan, who scattered three hits, struck out five and also went 2-for-3 at the plate with three RBI. “That loss was in our heads so we definitely wanted to come back stronger against them today. We wanted this one really bad. I don’t think we were mentally set for that earlier game and that kind of put us in our place in preparation for this game.”

With the win, the Red Raiders improve to 13-1 and will no doubt use this latest triumph as a spring board towards another deep run into the postseason. Since 2010, Hampshire has reached the Division 2 Western Mass. finals four times and has moved on to the state semifinals twice.

For defending two-time Division 3 state champion Turners Falls (13-2), this loss is merely a hic-up. Despite the blowout, the Indians still have enough talent reach the state finals once again.

“They came to our place and we did the same to them,” 34-year Turners Falls coach Gary Mullins said. “Revenge can be a very powerful tool as it showed today. We have no excuses. That team just came out and flat out beat us. They have some very good hitters on that team who swing the bats well. I still think we are much-better than what we showed today. We’ll just have to see what happens from here.”

As Hampshire showed from the outset, what transpired in that first meeting would not be repeated. The Red Raiders showed tremendous patients at the plate against Indians’ hard-throwing righty Dakota Smith-Porter. The senior was having difficulty locating her spots, falling behind in the count frequently. When she was in a position having to groove a pitch, the Red Raiders sat back and jumped all over it.

Smith-Porter ran into trouble immediately. In the first inning, Hampshire loaded the bases before Marissa Sarna-McCarthy roped an opposite field two-run double to right field. After a wild pitch plated the Red Raiders’ third run, McGan followed with an RBI single to put Hampshire on top 4-0.

In the third, the Red Raiders blew the doors open. Junior Anna Dziok opened the frame by ripping an 0-2 fastball deep over the left field fence for a home run. Bri Weltlich followed with a doubled and took third on a wild pitch. Smith-Porter next walked McCarthy spelling the end of day inside the circle. Senior Tanisha Sanders was brought on in the hopes of getting the Indians out of the jam.

But Lilly West had other ideas. The freshman belted a two-run double to right. Hampshire would go ahead 8-0 moments later after eighth-grader Paige Sullivan grounded a single to left, plating West. The Red Raiders sent two more across the plate the frame on a passed ball and a Savannah Waters sacrifice fly. Hampshire went up by a dozen in the fourth following McGan’s two-run single. McGan, who will pitch for Keene State College next year, finished off Turners Falls in the top of the fifth to cap off this statement-making victory.

“I couldn’t be more prouder of the way our girls hit the ball today,” Brian McGan said. “They kept their heads down, swung the bats and didn’t swing at bad pitches. We knew Dakota [Smith-Porter] has a good rise ball and we try to emulate that during practice. We focus in trying to lay off of it and concentrate on the balls that are coming at our waists. I felt our girls had a little something to prove this time around against them. Today we managed to swing bats well and Ashlee pitched a great game and moved the ball well all-around the strike zone.”

D3 softball: Turners Falls claims 6th state title

June, 16, 2012
6/16/12
5:58
PM ET


WORCESTER, Mass. -- If this was indeed Gary Mullins’ final game as head coach, then the long-time mentor of the Turners Falls softball program leaves on his terms as champion.

Today, in the Division 3 state final held at Worcester State University’s Rockwood Field, the Indians captured their sixth state title with a 4-0 triumph over Case.

The sixth crown ties Apponoquet Regional with second most all-time in the state. Only Bishop Fenwick has attained more with eight.

Following the victory, Mullins did not want to dicuss his uncertain future, but instead focus the attention on his team.

“I thought the kids played some real-nice softball today,” said Mullins, who wrapped up his 33rd season with an incredible overall record of 553-131. “The kids really stepped up today. It was pretty impressive.”

Case (18-8) entered this tilt looking for some redemption following last year’s 1-0 loss to Indians in the finals. Senior pitcher Shannon Orton (4 H, 11 K) came out poised and strong striking out seven of the first eight batters she faced. Likewise, Turners Falls hurler Dakota Smith-Porter (1 hit allowed) was equally stout in the pitcher’s circle. Although not registering as many strikeouts (3) as Orton, nonetheless, the junior was pitching to contact and allowing her defense to make the plays behind her.

“The way [Turners Falls] was playing defense, they weren’t outstanding but they were solid," said Cardinals coach Norm Beauchemin, whose club began the year 0-4. “You put the ball in the air they’re going to catch it. For us, Shannon has been great for us all year and started out very strong today. But after a while good hitters are going to catch up to her. Last year I wasn’t too happy walking off this field but this year I have nothing to be sad about. Our girls gave me what they had and today the better team won."

In the second inning, Case looked as thought it would get on the board first. Orton led off the frame with a double to right-center. With Samantha Gouveia inserted as a pinch-runner, she would advance to third on Mary Vanlingen’s sacrifice bunt. Kadie Sullivan was then hit by a pitch and proceeded to steal second, putting two in scoring position with only one out.

Jenna Reposa next hit a medium-deep fly ball to left. With Couveia tagging on the play, Indians’ left fielder Amber Caouette threw a strike to catcher Morgan Ozdarski, who applied the tag on Couveia and the threat had vanished.

“That was a big play," Mullins said. “We made the plays today and did the right things the entire game so I was extremely pleased."

Turners Falls would finally get to Orton in the its half of the fourth. The right hander lost a bit of control by walking Jenna Putala and Jenna Costa to open the inning. Smith-Porter then stepped to the plate and promptly drove a double off of the centerfield fence giving the Indians a 2-0 lead.

While Smith-Porter appeared to get stronger inside the circle as the game progressed, the Cardinals had no answers in how to attack her. While at the time a two-run lead appeared safe the way Smith-Porter was dealing, the Indians had no intentions of letting up.

“Dakota played like an absolute champion today," added Mullins. “She came through big time for us. She had that big hit in the fourth and gave us seven full innings in the pitcher’s circle. She should be extremely proud in what she has done. She’s a terrific athlete and a great kid."

Turners Falls added to its total in the sixth. Costa walked and swiped second. Orton then retired the next two batters leaving it up to Tanisha Sanders. The junior (11-for-17 in the postseason) didn’t disappoint as she belted an 0-2 fastball over the left field fence for some added insurance.

“I was thinking anything close you have to swing,” Sanders said. “I don’t always do well in an 0-2 hole but I came through today and am proud of myself.”

Smith-Porter proceeded to set down Case in order in the top of the seventh, sparking a jovial celebration on the diamond.

“I was thinking anything close you have to swing,” said Sanders. “I don’t always do well in an 0-2 hole but I came through today and am proud of myself.”

LAST HURRAH?
Concerning Mullins’ immediate future. All of this came about recently when he announced that he would retire as a physical education teacher at Turners Falls. Mullins still wanted to remain on as part-time AD, however, but because the teaching and AD positions are considered part-time and are linked together and viewed as full-time, he was told that he could no longer serve as AD. With that notion decided, Mullins was later told he most-likely would not be retained as boys' basketball coach where he has already claimed 300 victories, and could also lose out on softball too, should someone in the school system apply for the position. Mullins was informed that he could re-apply for both coaching positions but with no guarantee he will be retained.

According to local residents, blame has been cast towards school administrators and committee members. For whatever reason, whether it be jealousy or dislike, they are trying to push Mullins out. Forgetting the fact that it is Mullins who is responsible for putting this small high school and the town of Montague on the map with his coaching success, particularly in softball. Over the last couple of weeks, Mullins has received a tremendous amount of support from local townspeople and former and present players alike in an effort to keep him on as coach. School administrators and committee members have gone silent regarding the situation despite the outcries which have come their way.

Hope is that something will be done relatively soon. Without a doubt, the right thing to do is allow Mullins to continue to coach both sports for as long as he wants to.

How can you argue with his success?

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