For just the second time, Cape Elizabeth’s softball team has reached the Class B pinnacle.

And this time, the Capers did it in perfect fashion, capping the finest season in program history.

A season of dominance that will long be hailed.

Under first-year coach Kristen Duross, Cape Elizabeth out-scored its 16 regular season foes by a jaw-dropping 221 runs to 13. The Capers only had to play beyond five innings twice, in a 13-2 victory over Freeport and an 8-0 win over Morse. Every other contest ended by mercy rule, with the exception of a pair of 8-1 victories over Greely in five-inning doubleheader contests.

Not only did Cape Elizabeth punish the softball like no one else, the pitching staff, led by senior ace Anna Cornell, threw 10 shutouts.

Despite their unrivaled play, due to the vagaries of the Heal Points system, the Capers only wound up second to Fryeburg Academy in the Class B South standings.

After blanking No. 15 Freeport in the Round of 16 (22-0, in five innings), Cape Elizabeth eliminated No. 7 Poland, 13-2, in the quarterfinals. The team’s first test came in the semifinals, when No. 3 Medomak Valley kept the game scoreless into the bottom of the seventh, when Esme Song’s two-out single scored Clara Parker to produce a 1-0 victory and send the Capers to the Class B South Final versus No. 1 Fryeburg Academy.

Last Wednesday, at St. Joseph’s College in Standish, the Raiders pushed Cape Elizabeth to the brink, but the Capers answered like the champions they would become.

Cape Elizabeth scored twice in the top of the first and after Fryeburg Academy got a run back in the bottom half, went up, 3-1, in the second, but the Raiders scored once in the third and added two more runs in the sixth to put the Capers three outs from elimination.

But Cape Elizabeth refused to fold.

With one out, Song doubled to left-center. That brought up Julia Torre, who drove the second pitch into the gap in right-center. Song scored easily to tie it and as Torre ran to third with a triple, the throw from the outfield bounced through the infield untouched and Duross sent Torre home with the go-ahead run.

“The one thing I was thinking was, ‘We got this,’” Torre said. “We’re a great team that brings fight no matter what, whether we’re winning by 12 or losing by 12, we always fight.”

Cape Elizabeth ace Anna Cornell strikes out a Fryeburg Academy batter during last week’s Class B South Final. Gregory Rec / Portland Press Herald

In the bottom of the seventh, Cornell struck out the first batter, then third baseman Kat Callahan made a diving, tumbling catch of a bunt attempt by Kayrin Johnson. Callahan also caught the final out, a pop-up, and looked down to find her teammates rushing toward her in celebration of the program’s first regional title since 2007 and just the third all-time (2006 was the other).

“I think we pound through,” Callahan said. “We fight to the end.”

“It’s been a long time,” Torre said. “It feels good that all of our hard work has paid off to get us this far.”

“I will never doubt this team,” Duross added. “They’ve been playing together for a long, long time. This is a special group. I knew they would find a way. That’s what they do.”

Never a doubt

The state final Saturday versus Winslow in Brewer was a return to decisive victory form.

In the top of the first inning, the first two Capers were retired, but Torre, Kathryne Clay and Cornell followed with singles, the latter two knocking in runs, and Cape had a lead it would never surrender.

“We felt like we could win if we came to play the way we know we can,” Clay said. “We came out swinging and, in the last few games, we’ve been really good at scoring with two outs and we did that multiple times today.”

In the second inning, Hannah Mosher led off with a triple to right, starting a four-run outburst that featured two errors and RBI singles by Song and Clay.

In the third, Callahan led off with a double and Abigail Scifres singled her home. Dana Schwartz tripled and Song followed with another RBI single and the Capers led 9-2.

Winslow scored a run in each of the first four innings, but that wasn’t enough to keep up.

Cape Elizabeth completed the rout with a 10-run fifth inning. Parker’s single was one of eight hits in the inning.

Winslow needed four runs in the bottom of the fifth to keep the game going, but the Raiders went down 1-2-3, the last out being Cornell’s fifth strikeout, and for the first time since 2007, the Capers were state champs.

Cape Elizabeth celebrates after defeating Winsow 19-4 in five innings to win the Class B softball state championship game Saturday. Michael G. Seamans / Morning Sentinel

Schwartz, Torre and Cornell all had three-hit games. Schwartz collected two triples and three RBI. The Capers finished with 19 hits total and took advantage of seven Winslow errors and easily backed up their ace, who allowed nine hits and no walks.

“We came here ready to go, ready to get a quick start, and we did that,” said Cornell, who will pitch at Ithaca College next year. “It’s so nice to enjoy pitching (Saturday) and know your team has your back. Our team just hits well all the time.”

“We’ve played together since Little League and have been dreaming of this,” Schwartz said. “We never lost faith.”

“This is a very talented team, a special team,” added Duross, who has yet to suffer a loss as coach. “I never doubt this team. They are so deep. Going 21-0 and winning states. It doesn’t get better than that.

“This team dominated on both sides of the field. We had a deep team this year. One through nine could hit the ball hard and I could put anyone anywhere on defense and they would be able to make a big play. This team is the real deal and deserved nothing less than what they earned. They’re very, very talented. They came to practice everyday ready to work hard and be better than they were the day before and that translated into our games. We had 15 (mercy rule) games this year. I am big on offense and scoring as many runs as you can, any way you can. We aren’t a home run hitting team, believe it or not. We like line drives and small ball and we did that very well. These ladies crushed the ball this season and we look forward to doing the same thing next year.”

Speaking of 2022, don’t be surprised the Capers find themselves celebrating again when all is said and done.

“Things look great for next year and we can’t wait to keep the ball rolling,’ Duross said. “I think we all wish the season could keep on going, but we will just have to be patient, put our work in this summer and fall and get ready for a big spring. We will definitely miss our seniors, but this is a deep team. My starting catcher, Kathryne Clay, will be my go-to on the mound next year and my dominant freshman, Lauren Stienberg, will be behind the plate for her. I’m really excited for some of my sophomores and juniors to step up in big roles next year.

“I’m really looking forward to what next season brings.”

Press Herald staff writers Mike Lowe and Kevin Thomas contributed to this story.

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

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