BERLIN - Berlin softball coach Jason Pires has a love for Tostitos Lime chips, something his players have caught on to throughout the years.
So it was only fitting that after Pires and the Redcoats defeated New Britain for his 200th career win, coming against New Britain, the team rewarded him with two bags of his favorite chips.
For Pires those kind of memories off the field to go with the ones on the field with his players are what has made his 15 years in the dugout extra special.
"Really winning 200 games or any milestone is a testament to the players,” Pires said. “Without them there's 0 wins. I've been able to coach great players who have gone on to do great things in college both with softball and just in life. They're the ones who deserve the credit."
Along the way Pires has been fortunate enough to have strong assistant coaches. Currently Megan Kenendy and Amanda Cooper serve as assistant coaches. Both are fairly new to their roles, Kennedy in her second season and Cooper in her first.
Pires attributes much of the team’s success to his former long-time assistant coach Joy Cooper, who was with the team for 11 seasons.
"She deserves a lot of credit for helping coach the kids,” Pires said. “She was definitely one of those coaches you remember.”
In the dugout some of his favorite memories came in 2013 and 2014. The Redcoats reached the semifinals in each of those seasons and did so with mostly the same group of players.
More impressively, Berlin did so as underdogs. In both quarterfinal games the Redcoats weren’t expected to win facing off against teams that were largely considered the favorites to reach and win the state championship.
In the 2013 quarterfinals Berlin faced off against defending state champions Rockville.
It was the Redcoats pitcher Makayla Harris that won the game though. She shut down the opposing offense and picked up a 3-0 win. The loss was Rockville’s second of the season and eliminating any chance to repeat as champions.
The following season Berlin would once again face off against a powerhouse in the quarterfinals, this time against Torrington.
At the time the Red Raiders were 20-1 and had relied heavily on star pitcher Sydney Matzko, who now pitches for the University of North Florida as a redshirt junior.
Harris, now playing at Molloy College, once again picked up the win and Redcoats catcher Amanda Patterson delivered a big three-run double to put Berlin in the position to win and it did 4-2.
“Makayla delivers a lot of credit,” Pires said. “We had two great seasons those years and she was big. It’s a testament to the kind of girls we have not just in those years but every year.”
This season the Redcoats are 6-3 and Pires has already picked up win No. 201. He hopes reaching the No. 200 milestone is just the beginning to a coaching gig that has already provided him with a lifetime of memories.
"It's been a lot of fun,” he said. “We've always had a good group of girls and I love coming to the field with them. I hope I can be here for 200 more wins."
Dan Orencole can be reached at 860-973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org