Turners Falls rolls to finals again, 8-0
Tanisha Sanders connects
Grandby 13 Briannah Mercier handles an infield fly in loss to TF.
Breanna Breault handles an infield fly
Brittany York escapes a pickle back to 2
Dakota Smith Porter pitches
Tanisha Sanders scores
Brittany York connects
AMHERST — Dakota Smith-Porter is a quiet leader. Her Thursday performance spoke volumes.
The senior right-hander fired six innings of three-hit ball in the circle and went 4-for-4 with a double and two RBIs at the plate as second-seeded Turners Falls High School rolled to an 8-0 victory over No. 3 Granby High School in the semifinals of the Western Massachusetts Division III Softball Tournament at Sortino Field.
“She was pretty solid,” said Mullins of his ace. “I thought she really wanted the opportunity to pitch (here), and she earned it.”
Turners (20-2) advanced to the finals against top-seeded Mount Everett Regional School (21-1), a 3-0 winner over Berkshire County rival St. Joseph’s Central High School in the first half of Thursday’s semifinal doubleheader. The game is tentatively scheduled for noon Saturday.
Smith-Porter was consistent and mostly pitched ahead in the count during her 72-pitch outing. She struck out five, issued just one walk (a two-out free pass to Brie Mercier in the first) and allowed singles to Brooke Labrie in the second, Alex White in the third and Hannah Casey in the fifth. She threw 47 strikes, including 14 of 21 first-pitch strikes.
Freshman Mackenzie Phillips finished up with a perfect seventh inning and fanned two in her 11-pitch outing.
Turners’ defense was nearly flawless, making just one error but atoning for it with the first of two double plays — Mackenzie Salls stabbed a low liner from Noelle Menard and doubled off courtesy runner Madison Place in the fourth. Later, Smith-Porter caught a line drive off the bat of the Rams’ Jen Cadigan and threw to Salls to complete the other twin-killing in the fifth, doubling off Casey.
Offensively, the Indians came out swinging and racked up 10 of their 13 hits in the first four innings.
They grabbed a run in the first when Jenna Putala drew a leadoff walk and went to second on Smith-Porter’s infield single (an error on the third moved both runners up a base), then Tanisha Sanders singled to right to plate Putala.
Turners tacked on a three-spot in the second to make it 4-0. Brittany York (2-for-4, RBI, run) and Breanna Breault had consecutive singles, then Putala singled home York with the first run, putting runners at second and third.
Granby decided to intentionally walk Smith-Porter, but Rams starter Tessa Cote inadvertently left the second pitch over the plate and a surprised Smith-Porter flared it into right field for a two-run single.
Salls (2-for-3, two RBIs) scored the Indians’ fifth run in the third inning, when she walked, went to second on Morgan Ozdarski’s single and scored on York’s line single off the top of second baseman Kiley Baran’s glove.
Smith-Porter doubled to lead off the fourth. Amber Caouette, who came in as a courtesy runner, advanced to third on a flyout and scored on Salls’ single just past Baran’s outstretched glove to make it 6-0.
Salls registered an RBI single and Ozdarski plated the final run on a groundout in the sixth.
Notes: Because of the forecast for today (90 percent chance of rain) and Saturday (80 percent), public address announcer Sherry Webb reminded fans after the game to check the miaa.net tournament page for any schedule changes. The most likely scenario is the game will be played Sunday at noon. ... Emma Johnson started in left for Caouette, who suffered an upper arm injury during practice. Caouette pinch-hit for Jordan Meattey in the sixth and went to left in the seventh, while Johnson moved over to center. ... Smith-Porter extended her postseason hitting streak to 14 games, while Sanders has hit safely in six of her seven postseason starts. ... Ray Arsenault and Adam Frenier were the umpires.