CAPE ELIZABETH—A championship team has to figure out a way to win by any means necessary.
Saturday afternoon, Cape Elizabeth’s powerhouse softball squad only mustered five hits, but still managed to produce a key, early season victory.
Facing perennial power Fryeburg, the Capers scratched out a run in the bottom of the second inning, as their number nine hitter, junior designated player Hannah Saturley, delivered a clutch two-out RBI single.
The bats came to life in the fourth, as sophomore catcher Tess Haller and junior shortstop Ashley Tinsman both crushed RBI hits and Cape Elizabeth pushed its advantage to 4-0.
The Raiders then threatened in the fifth, loading the bases with one out and Capers senior starter Katie Rabasca was pulled for senior Anna Goldstein.
With the game essentially on the line, Goldstein sparkled, allowing just one runner to score.
Cape Elizabeth pushed across another unearned run in the sixth and went on to prevail, 5-1, earning its fifth win without a loss this spring and dropping Fryeburg to 2-3.
“(Fryeburg’s) tough,” said Capers coach Joe Henrikson. “It’s a big win. A confidence builder. I like the way the pitchers worked out of situations. We came out and hit the ball.”
Cape Elizabeth finally rid itself of the “curse” last spring, winning at the Raiders, 9-6, to snap a four-year, four-game losing streak to Fryeburg. Making that triumph sweeter was the fact that it was Henrikson’s 200th with the program.
The Capers went on to reach the semifinals before losing to Gray-New Gloucester.
Fryeburg also fell in the semifinals, to eventual regional champion Greely.
The Raiders have struggled in the early going this season, letting a one-run lead slip away in the seventh inning in a 3-2 loss at Greely and after beating visiting Poland (5-2) and winning at Wells (14-0), losing at Yarmouth Friday, 7-5.
The Capers opened with a 6-3 home win over Yarmouth, then beat the Clippers in Yarmouth, 13-4, downed visiting Falmouth, 4-1, and won at York Friday, 13-0 (in five innings).
Entering Saturday’s game, Cape Elizabeth held an 8-7 lead over Fryeburg over the past dozen years (please see sidebar, below).
This time, the Capers made enough clutch plays in all aspects of the game to earn another win on a pleasant day, which featured a first pitch temperature of 58 degrees with a 13 mile-per-hour wind.
The Raiders threatened in the top of the first, as shortstop Sydney Charles led off with a single to center and was sacrificed to second by centerfielder Mckenzie Buzzell.
Fryeburg starting pitcher Sarah Harriman was next and hit a sharp ground ball to Tinsman. Charles broke for third on the play and Tinsman threw to senior third baseman Emma O’Rourke for the out. Rabasca then got first baseman Kylie Locke to pop out to Haller in foul territory to end the frame.
In the bottom half, senior first baseman Elise Flathers drew a leadoff walk and Haller crushed a drive to deep center, but the wind held the ball up and Buzzell made the catch for the out. Tinsman then lined a ball to right, directly at Makayla Frost for out number two. Flathers stole second, but senior centerfielder Mary Perkins popped out to Harriman to keep the game scoreless.
Rabasca began the second by striking out Fryeburg third baseman Kristen Chapman. Second baseman Jeannette White reached on an error, but Rabasca caught Frost looking at strike three. Leftfielder Lexi Cartland then blooped an infield single over Rabasca’s head to put two on, but the Capers escaped when Rabasca got catcher Makayla Cooper to ground back to the mound.
Cape Elizabeth went ahead to stay in the bottom of the frame.
After O’Rourke grounded out to second and sophomore second baseman Meg Nicholson flew out to center, junior leftfielder Michaela Pinette started the rally by beating out an infield single. Rabasca followed with a walk and Saturley came up big, lining a hit to right to score Pinette for a 1-0 lead.
An error on the throw put runners at second and third, but Harriman escaped further damage by getting Flathers to look at strike three.
Rabasca had her best inning in the third, striking out Charles, getting Buzzell to pop out to O’Rourke at third, then inducing Harriman to hit a pop fly to O’Rourke in foul territory for a 1-2-3 frame.
Haller started the bottom half by scalding the ball, but it was right at Charles, who made the stop and the throw across the diamond. That out loomed large when Tinsman ripped a double down the leftfield line. Tinsman took third on a wild pitch, then appeared poised to score when Perkins ripped a shot down the third base line.
Problem was, the ball hit Tinsman.
Not only did the line drive likely sting, but adding insult to injury, Tinsman was ruled out for being hit in fair territory and Perkins was awarded first, losing out on a potential extra base hit and RBI.
“I tried to stay (in foul territory), but it happened so quick,” Tinsman said. “I tried to get out of the way, but I guess I stepped on the line.”
“Our baserunning needs to improve,” Henrikson said. “You’ve got to stay in foul territory. That was a huge out. That could have been a huge play. I’m not even sure that ball was fair.”
After Perkins moved up to second on a passed ball, O’Rourke reached on an error, putting runners at the corners, but Nicholson grounded out to third to keep the score 1-0.
Rabasca began the top of the fourth by getting Locke to fly to center and striking out Chapman. White blooped a single to right with two down, but she tried to take second and Goldstein threw to Tinsman for the out which ended the frame.
Cape Elizabeth got some breathing room in the bottom half.
The uprising began when Pinette reached on an error. Rabasca struck out, but Cooper dropped strike three and when she threw to first, Pinette moved up to second. Pinette then took third on a wild pitch and when Saturley grounded to short, Pinette raced home for a 2-0 lead.
Sophomore Monika Scheindel pinch-ran for Saturley and moved to second when Flathers grounded out.
Haller again made solid contact and this time, the ball got through for a single to center, scoring Scheindel for a 3-0 advantage.
Haller took second on the throw home and Tinsman followed by ripping a single to left, scoring Haller to make it 4-0.
Perkins almost extended the lead when she put a charge into the next Harriman pitch, but the ball didn’t quite reach the fence in center and Buzzell made the catch.
Then, to its credit, Fryeburg didn’t quit.
After Frost flew out to left to start the fifth, Cartland singled to left and was replaced by courtesy runner Dimitra Katsigiannis. Cooper then singled to right and Charles walked to load the bases.
That was it for Rabasca and in came Goldstein, who faced a far from ideal scenario.
Goldstein got Buzzell to ground out to second for the second out, scoring Katsigiannis. Next up was Harriman, who crushed a deep drive down the rightfield line, but luckily for the Capers, it landed just foul. Goldstein then proceeded to strike Harriman out and Cape Elizabeth had dodged a huge bullet and led, 4-1, heading for the bottom of the fifth.
“It was pretty stressful, but I dealt with the exact same situation last year at their place,” Goldstein said. “The pressure’s on, especially because they were yelling about how I was pitching, which was different. They tried to get in my head, but I looked at (Tess) and just focused. (Katie and I are) pretty even. It’s good to have the righty-lefty. It’s good to switch it up.”
“You’ve got to be careful the third time through against a good hiiting team,” Henrikson said. “It’s nice to have a different look, right to left. The other day we played Falmouth, I went with Anna and she went all the way until the last inning when Katie came in.”
The Capers went quietly in the bottom of the fifth, as O’Rourke struck out looking, Nicholson popped out foul to first and Pinette struck out swinging.
After Locke popped out to start the sixth, Chapman walked and stole second. White grounded out to first, with Chapman moving up, and Frost walked to bring the tying run to the plate, but again Goldstein was up for the challenge, getting Cartland to ground back to the mound.
“(Fryeburg’s) a good team,” Tinsman said. “They can get a ton of runs in an inning. I wasn’t satisfied at that point. I knew we needed more runs.”
Cape Elizabeth tacked on one final run in the bottom of the sixth.
Rabasca led off by grounding back to the mound, but Harriman’s throw was wild and Rabasca moved to second. Sophomore Sam Feenstra pinch-ran and had to stay put when Saturley popped out to White, who made a diving catch in foul territory. Feenstra did move up on a passed ball and came home to make the score 5-1 when Flathers grounded out to second. Haller flew out to center to end the frame.
Goldstein set the Raiders down in order in the seventh, although it didn’t happen in orthodox fashion.
Cooper led off by lining the ball at Saturley in right, who misplayed it. Cooper tried to go all the way to third, but Saturley threw to Tinsman, who gunned the ball to O’Rourke for out number one.
“That hit to rightfield. I didn’t know where the runner was, then, I turned around and saw her right there,” Tinsman said.
Charles then lined to Nicholson, who made a nice diving catch moving to her right for out number two.
“That throw was really big and so was the second baseman’s catch,” Goldstein said. “The defense made big plays. A pitcher loves seeing that. It’s very rewarding. Coach always says to use the defense behind us.”
The third out was nowhere near as dramatic, as Goldstein got Buzzell to fly out to Perkins to center, bringing the curtain down on Cape Elizabeth’s 5-1 victory.
While the Capers didn’t pound the ball with abandon, they did enough with their bats to get the job done.
“Getting our bats going was a key,” Goldstein said. “I think we’ve been pretty consistent. For us, it’s all about hitting. We just have to be positive.”
“I like the way we dig in and hit,” Henrikson said. “I’m proud of how we hit the ball. You won’t see a better pitcher than (Harriman) in our conference.”
Tinsman was the lone Caper to have multiple hits.
Saturley drove in two runs, while Flathers, Haller and Tinsman each had RBI.
Pinette scored twice, while Feenstra, Haller and Scheindel all touched home once.
Rabasca improved to 3-0 after giving up one earned run in 4.1 innings. She surrendered four hits, walked one and struck out four.
Goldstein didn’t allow a run or a hit in 2.2 innings of relief. She walked two and fanned one.
Fryeburg’s offense was limited.
Cartland had two hits and Buzzell had an RBI. Kaatsigiannis was the only Raider to score.
Harriman fell to 2-2 after giving up five runs (just one earned) on five hits and two walks. She struck out four and threw two wild pitches.
“(Harriman’s) definitely one of the better pitchers in the conference,” Tinsman said. “We seemed to hit her OK. We kept pounding the ball.”
Fryeburg hopes to right its ship Monday, but it won’t be easy, as it plays at dangerous Falmouth.
Cape Elizabeth returns to action Wednesday at Freeport, then welcomes Traip Saturday.
The Capers have lived up to billing so far, but they’re not satisfied playing their best in early May.
“We’re doing great,” said Tinsman. “I think we can go far. We can do everything. We go deep in the lineup. We can pitch. We just need to be consistent.”
“Our outfield play needs to improve and our pitch selection needs to improve,” Henrikson said. “There’s plenty for us to work on, that’s for sure. We want to peak at the end, not now. We’ve got a lot of tough teams still. There’s still a long way to go.”
Cape Elizabeth senior Katie Rabasca delivers a pitch.
Cape Elizabeth senior first baseman Elise Flathers successfully steals second base in the first inning.
Cape Elizabeth senior third baseman Emma O’Rourke makes contact.
Cape Elizabeth senior centerfielder Mary Perkins takes a rip.
Cape Elizabeth junior leftfielder Michaela Pinette races down the first base line. Pinette scored twice in the victory.
Cape Elizabeth junior Hannah Saturley lines an RBI single to put Cape Elizabeth ahead in the second inning.
Cape Elizabeth junior shortstop Ashley Tinsman rounds first on her way to second after ripping a third inning double.
Cape Elizabeth 9 @ Fryeburg 6
Fryeburg 9 @ Cape Elizabeth 2
@ Fryeburg 5 Cape Elizabeth 0
Fryeburg 6 @ Cape Elizabeth 4
@ Cape Elizabeth 3 Fryeburg 1
Western B semifinals
Fryeburg 7 @ Cape Elizabeth 1
@ Fryeburg 1 Cape Elizabeth 0
Western B Final
Fryeburg 1 Cape Elizabeth 0
@ Fryeburg 2 Cape Elizabeth 0
@ Cape Elizabeth 3 Fryeburg 1
Western B quarterfinals
@ Cape Elizabeth 2 Fryeburg 1 (9)
Cape Elizabeth 13 @ Fryeburg 0 (5)
@ Cape Elizabeth 7 Fryeburg 2
Cape Elizabeth 7 @ Fryeburg 1
@ Cape Elizabeth 3 Fryeburg 2
Cape Elizabeth senior pitcher Katie Rabasca smiles after escaping a jam during Saturday’s 5-1 home win over Fryeburg.
Mike Strout photos
More photos below
F- 000 010 0- 1 4 4
CE- 010 301 x- 5 5 2
Saturley singled to right, Pinette scored.
Saturley hit into a fielder’s choice, Pinette scored. Haller singled to center, Scheindel scored. Tinsman singled to left, Haller scored.
Buzzell grounded out to second, Katsigiannis scored.
Flathers grounded out to second, Feenstra scored.
CE- Pinette 2, Feenstra, Haller, Scheindel
CE- Saturley 2, Flathers, Haller, Tinsman
Harriman and Cooper; Rabasca and Haller
Harriman (L, 2-2) 6 IP 5 H 5 R 1 ER 2 BB 4 K 2 WP
Rabasca (W, 3-0) 4.1 IP 4 H 1 R 1 ER 1 BB 4 K
Goldstein 2.2 IP 0 H 0 R 2 BB 1 K