When asked to assess his Cape Elizabeth High softball team in the preseason, Coach Joe Henrikson said he didn’t know what to expect. He knew he’d be starting several freshmen and said, “It’s a big jump from eighth grade to varsity, who knows how they’re going to perform under pressure?”

Apparently, for this group, very well.

Sophomore Anna Cornell has been one of the keys to Cape Elizabeth’s surprising 13-2 season in Class B South. A pitcher/first baseman, she is batting .389. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

The Capers are perhaps the biggest surprise team in Class B South this spring. With one game remaining, they appear to be locked into the No. 3 playoff seed, behind Fryeburg Academy and York (who play a makeup game at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday to determine who goes in No. 1). The Capers start six freshmen, play seven or eight regularly.

“I’m stunned, pleasantly surprised,” said Henrikson. “I’ve never seen anything like this. I’ve been doing this forever and to have this many kids who can play at this level coming out as freshmen? You might get one or two over the years who can step in right away. This many, it’s unusual.”

The Capers are 13-2 entering Wednesday’s regular-season finale at Leavitt. Their losses have come to top-ranked Fryeburg (2-0 on April 26) and second-ranked York (3-0 on May 13). “If we hit, we have a chance with anybody,” said Henrikson. “Defense has been solid, pitching has been solid.”

Henrikson starts one senior (pitcher/first baseman Jessie Robicheaw), one junior (catcher Elena Keller), two sophomores (pitcher/first baseman Anna Cornell and shortstop Julia Torre) and six freshmen: left fielder Dana Schwartz (.314 batting average), right fielder Clara Parker (.235), center fielder Esme Song (.435), third baseman Katharine Blackburn (.273), designated player Kat Callahan (.250) and utility player Kathryn Clay (.438, 13 RBI).

Robicheaw (.500 batting average, 12 RBI) and Cornell (.389, 22 RBI) are 6-1 as pitchers. Torre is hitting .358 with 18 RBI and Keller is hitting .300.

“It’s been a fun year,” said Henrikson, whose team was 9-8 last season. “Usually you get a group like this and you build confidence and a year or two later you’re competing. But this team, it’s like everyone is working together. You hope for that. It’s been fun. That’s the bottom line, it’s been a lot of fun.”

IN CLASS A SOUTH, Mike Fecteau’s Biddeford Tigers have been the surprise team, coming off a 7-10 season last year. The Tigers finished the 2019 regular season 10-6 and will likely settle into the sixth slot in the region. Among their losses: a 5-4 nine-inning loss to top-ranked Scarborough (where the Tigers took a 4-3 lead into the bottom of the seventh), an 8-7 loss to No. 4 Massabesic (where the Mustangs scored three runs with two outs in the bottom of the seventh), a 9-6 loss to No. 2 Thornton Academy and two others losses (11-7 to Windham and 5-2 to Kennebunk) in which they loaded the bases in the last inning without scoring.

Senior pitcher Lexi Matteau has helped Biddeford to a 10-6 record this spring. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

“We’re holding out own,” said Fecteau. “I think the girls have gone above and beyond the expectations.”

The Tigers have a rising star in freshman catcher Chantelle Bouchard, who leads team in hits (27), RBI (29) and home runs (six). Sophomore outfielder Renee Dutremble is hitting .500, senior first baseman Taylor Wildes had 26 hits and senior pitcher Lexi Matteau has been consistently good.

But this team doesn’t rely on any single player. “Every game there’s someone making a contribution,” said Fecteau. “It’s really a great team effort. Every time we need something, someone comes through.”

Two games stand out for Fecteau: an 18-9 win over Cheverus/North Yarmouth Academy in which Biddeford overcame a 9-1 deficit, and the loss to Scarborough.

“The Cheverus game was a big turnaround game for us,” said Fecteau. “The kids just believed they would win that game. Scarborough, we had our opportunities. We lost, but we competed to the final out.

“We’ve competed against the good teams. Hopefully it helps for the playoffs.”

WITH ONLY THREE wins the past two years, Cheverus/NYA also has had a big turnaround. The Stags are 7-7 with two games remaining and are locked into the playoffs.

“I think a lot of it is confidence and consistency,” said Coach Theresa Hendrix. “Throughout each day and practice, the girls have started to believe in themselves.”

Cheverus/NYA has been led by catcher Alex Hammond (.667, nine home runs), first baseman Sydney Plummer (.477) and shortstop Madisyn Durgin (.333).

Hendrix is actually glad the team has games this week, shortening the time the team has to wait for the playoffs to begin Tuesday. “It keeps us in the flow of things,” she said.



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