Anna Cornell had a 16-0 record for Cape Elizabeth this spring with a 0.57 ERA and 152 strikeouts in 86 innings. She also had a .571 batting average, best on the team. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Anna Cornell feels at home while standing in the pitcher’s circle on a softball diamond.

“I started pitching around 8 years old,” she said. “And I just loved the pressure, that’s exactly what I love, having control of the game. And believing in yourself, that you can do it. Having the ball in your hand, controlling the pace of the game, that’s pressure I thrive off of.”

No one did it better this year. Cornell, a senior pitcher for Cape Elizabeth High, is the 2021 Varsity Maine Player of the Year in softball after leading the Capers to not only the Class B state championship, but a perfect 21-0 record.

Cornell went 16-0 for the Capers with a 0.57 ERA and 152 strikeouts in 86 innings. She only walked 12 batters. Hitting fifth in the lineup, she batted a team-high .571 with six doubles, three triples, two home runs and 31 RBI.

“She knows how to pitch,” said Brunswick Coach Hugh Dwyer, whose team lost to the Capers 12-0 early in the season. “I think she’s a great choice. That girl, by far, made her teammates better.

“When we play a team, we like to think we can figure a pitcher out after the first time through the lineup. But when we faced her, she figured out our lineup after the first time through and knew exactly how to pitch us.”

Cornell, 18, will pitch next year for Ithaca College, a Division III program that has made 21 NCAA playoff appearances in the past 24 years. Cornell said she was fortunate to visit the school’s campus before the coronavirus pandemic shut down student visits.

“I really feel it’s the right fit for me,” said Cornell, who will study exercise science.

And she’s heading there coming off a dream season. “Oh my gosh, I couldn’t ask for a better team to play my senior season with,” she said. “I’ll miss them so much. I want to come back and help Cape softball any way I can.”

Cornell, who plays softball year-round, said she was confident from the start of the season that this could be a special year, especially coming off a 2020 season that was canceled because of the pandemic. She had played with many of her teammates since Little League and there was a sense they could accomplish big things.

“I always believed in my team,” she said. “We set some high standards and were able to meet them. We knew we were capable of it. Then the cards were played and everyone had an awesome season.”

First-year Cape Elizabeth coach Kristen Duross said she never worried when Cornell was in the pitching circle.

“She is just someone you can really trust on the mound that’s not going to get stressed out, that’s going to remain calm,” said Duross. “She was very dominant and deserves all these honors she’s getting.”

Duross was stuck not only by Cornell’s composure, but her humility.

“This whole year, she did not brag or boast about any of her accomplishments,” said Duross. “That says a lot about her.”

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