Cape Elizabeth sophomore Anna Cornell delivers a pitch during the Capers’ 3-0 loss to York Monday.

Ben McCanna / Press Herald photos.

More photos below.


CAPE ELIZABETH—York junior ace Abby Orso is hard enough to contend with when she’s doesn’t have extra motivation.

When Orso does, as she did Monday afternoon, she’s nearly impossible to beat.

And Cape Elizabeth’s softball team found that out the hard way in a midseason showdown at Capano Field.

Orso, who suffered a season-ending arm injury last spring at Cape Elizabeth and who lost to the Capers two weeks ago at home, worked in and out of trouble all afternoon, but didn’t allow a single runner to score.

At the plate, Orso never got to swing the bat, as she was intentionally walked four times, but on two of those occasions, Orso stole bases and came around to score and that helped the Wildcats go on to a 3-0 victory.

York improved to 8-2, moved into the top spot in the Class B South Heal Points standings and in the process, handed the Capers just their second loss in eight outings this spring.

“I definitely don’t have the best memories here, so it’s an extra-special win,” Orso said. “Probably the biggest one we’ve had all season.”

Litmus test

With Orso returning from injury this spring, York was expected to be a top contender in Class B South, while Cape Elizabeth has surprised a lot of people, although not in its dugout, with its play to date.

The Wildcats started with wins at Fryeburg Academy (7-1) and Wells (11-1) and at home versus Wells (11-0) and defending regional champion Greely (9-1) before losing at home to Yarmouth, 5-3, and Cape Elizabeth, 10-2. York then bounced back to down host Freeport (12-0, in five-innings, on an Orso no-hitter), host Gray-New Gloucester (8-0) and host Traip Academy (9-0).

The Capers, meanwhile, rallied to beat visiting Lake Region, 7-6, in nine-innings, in their opener, then handled visiting Greely, 11-1. After a 2-0 loss at Fryeburg Academy, Cape Elizabeth won at York (10-2), swept a doubleheader at Freeport (winning five-inning games by scores of 12-4 and 14-2), then last Wednesday, the Capers handled visiting  Yarmouth, 10-3.

In the first meeting this spring, May 1 in York, senior Jessie Robicheaw earned the victory for Cape Elizabeth, adding three hits and an RBI, while sophomore Anna Cornell hit a two-run double.

Monday, on a cloudy, windy and chilly (46 degrees) albeit dry afternoon, both pitchers were on, but Cornell didn’t get help from her defense, while Orso managed to navigate a tightrope in leading the Wildcats to victory.

Cornell started the game by getting senior third baseman Hannah Gennaro to chase strike three. Cape Elizabeth coach Joe Henrikson then had Orso walked intentionally and she immediately stole second base, but Cornell struck out senior catcher Kayla Dredge and got senior first baseman Abi Kavanagh to ground out to third.

In the bottom half, the Capers had an opportunity to take the lead, but couldn’t do so.

Orso struck out the first batter she faced, sophomore shortstop Julia Torre, then induced freshman centerfielder Dana Schwartz to bunt to third (she was thrown out). Robicheaw, playing first base, then lined a double over York rightfielder Ellie Bourgoine and Cornell was walked intentionally. That set the stage for freshman third baseman Katharine Blackburn, but Orso struck her out to keep the game scoreless.

The Wildcats put their first two runners on in the top of the second, but couldn’t score.

Sophomore centerfielder Meg Bachelder led off with a single up the middle and second baseman Emily Rainforth followed with a base on balls, but senior shortstop Isabelle Babcock struck out swinging. Bourgoine beat out a bunt to load the bases, but Cornell fanned designated player Jill Carr, then escaped the jam by striking out Gennaro.

Freshman catcher Kathryn Clay led off the bottom half with a single to right on a 3-2 pitch, but Orso didn’t let the Capers put another ball in play, catching freshman second baseman Esme Song looking at strike three, fanning freshman rightfielder Clara Parker, then ending the inning by catching freshman designated player Kat Callahan looking at strike three.

York then got the only run it would need in the top of the third, as Orso took care of business herself.

Orso led off and was intentionally walked and again, she stole second. After Dredge flew out to center, Kavanagh fouled off five pitches before lining a single just past Robicheaw into right to easily score Orso for a 1-0 lead.

“Hitting is one of my favorite parts of the game, so (being walked) can be frustrating,” Orso said. “I want to get on the bases, so my teammates can hit me in. I have great hitters behind me, so they’re always able to move me around. I never have a doubt in my mind I’ll get home.”

After Bachelder struck out with Kavanagh taking second, Cornell struck out Rainforth to end the inning.

In the bottom half, Torre was hit by a pitch leading off and after Schwartz looked at strike three, Robicheaw was intentionally walked, but Orso struck out both Cornell and Blackburn.

Cornell easily retired Babcock on a grounder back to the mound and Bourgoine on a grounder to third to start the top of the fourth. Carr then grounded to Torre at short, but she reached when the throw to first got away. Cornell escaped further damage, getting Gennaro to line out to second.

After Clay led off the bottom half with a grounder to first, Song blooped a single to center. After Parker looked at strike three, Song moved to second on a wild pitch, but Orso caught Callahan looking at strike three for the third out.

“I just forget about runners on base,” Orso said. “I just kind of clear my mind and just pitch and focus on the batter.”

Orso then returned to her baserunning ways to add to the lead in the top of the fifth.

Orso was intentionally walked leading off.

“The kid’s a phenomenal hitter, probably the best hitter in the conference,” Henrikson said. “She’s probably averaging a home run per game. I didn’t want her to beat us both at the plate and on the hill.”

This time, Orso didn’t steal second, but she moved up when Dredge blooped an infield single between Cornell and Clay. Kavanagh then grounded to Torre, whose throw to first got away, allowing Orso to come home with a second run, putting runners at second and third in the process.

Cornell escaped further damage, as she got Bachelder to ground back to the mound for an out at home and after Bachelder stole second, she got Rainforth to pop to second and fanned Babcock.

Cape Elizabeth put another runner on in the bottom half, but again came up empty.

Orso got Torre to fly out to center leading off, then fanned Schwartz, but Robicheaw drew a walk to bring Cornell to the plate as the potential tying run. Cornell couldn’t come through, however, grounding out to first.

The Wildcats added a third run in the top of the sixth.

Bourgoine lined the first pitch of the inning past third base for a single and she took second on a wild pitch. Carr then struck out swinging, but strike three got away and while Clay threw to first to record the out, Bourgoine took off for third and Robicheaw’s throw was off-target and it got away, allowing Bourgoine to come home. Gennaro then singled to right and Orso was walked for a fourth time, but Cornell caught Dredge looking at strike three and after a passed ball moved the runners up, Cornell fanned Kavanagh.

Blackburn walked on a 3-2 pitch leading off the bottom half, but Clay flew out to right, Song grounded into a force out at second and after a wild pitch, Parker grounded back to the mound on a full count pitch to send the game to the seventh.

In the top half, Cornell got Bachelder to ground back to the mound, then induced a liner off the bat of Rainforth, which Torre, going to her right, dove to make a tremendous catch. Cornell hit Babcock with a pitch, but Clay threw her out trying to steal and the game went to the bottom of the seventh.

There, Orso had her easiest inning to end it.

Callahan led off with a grounder to the hole which Babcock got to in time to barely throw out the runner. Torre popped out to second, then Schwartz tried to beat out a bunt, but she was thrown out by Gennaro to give York a 3-0 victory in 1 hour, 50 minutes.

Orso improved to 8-2 with a complete game shutout effort. She gave up three hits and four walks and struck out 11. Orso hit a batter and threw a pair of wild pitches.

“My pitches worked a little better than last time,” Orso said. “I had more movement and more change-ups and that definitely helped.”

“They got us pretty good (at home), so Abby was looking forward to this game,” said York coach Kevin Giannino. “When they got runners in scoring position, she just bears down and protects the lead. She was strong today and when they hit the ball, we made the plays behind her. It’s a great win for us on a cold day. We put the bat on the ball.”

Offensively, Bourgoine was the game’s lone multiple hitter and scored a run.

Orso scored twice.

Kavanagh had the only RBI.

Orso stole two bases, while Bachelder had one.

The Wildcats stranded 10 runners.

Cornell was the hard-luck loser, giving up just one earned run in seven innings. She gave up six hits and walked five and also fanned 11. Cornell hit a batter and threw a wild pitch.

Cape Elizabeth had ample opportunities to score, but left eight runners on base.

“I’m not making excuses, but it’s hard to hit on a cold day,” Henrikson said. “The kids didn’t quit. They fought hard. York’s a good team. We at least put the bat on the ball. We did that the first game too.”

Gearing up for June

There’s a good chance the teams will meet for a third time in the crucible of the playoffs in June, but both squads have plenty to contend with in the interim.

Cape Elizabeth (currently fourth in Class B South) plays at Poland Wednesday, visits Wells Thursday, hosts Wells Friday, then pays a visit to Yarmouth Monday of next week. Home games against St. Dom’s and Gray-New Gloucester and contests at Greely and Leavitt also remain.

York hosts Old Orchard Beach Friday, then welcomes Lake Region Monday. Home games against Fryeburg Academy and Gray-New Gloucester and trips to Lake Region and Poland also loom.

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

York junior ace Abby Orso throws a strike. Orso earned the win, allowing three hits in a complete game effort while fanning 11.

York rightfielder Ellie Bourgoine fields a hit.

York’s Isabelle Bachelder lays down a bunt.

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