EVERETT — For years, the Cascade High School softball team hovered near the bottom of Wesco.
Now, the Bruins are district champions.
No. 2 seed Cascade blasted seven homers and added another milestone to its breakthrough season, slugging past top-seeded Snohomish for a 14-7 victory in the Class 3A District 1 Tournament title game Thursday evening at Phil Johnson Ballfields.
“It means the world,” Bruins senior catcher Katelyn Pryor said. “We’ve worked so hard for this. We have always been beaten and beaten and underestimated every single year. And it feels so good to finally come out on top and prove people wrong.”
Prior to this spring, Cascade suffered through seven consecutive losing seasons. The Bruins went 31-101 over that span, including 2-11 in last year’s abbreviated season.
But this year, it’s been a complete reversal.
The Bruins (17-6) have more than doubled their win total from each of the previous seven seasons. They finished tied for second in the 16-team Wesco 3A/2A. They earned their first state berth since 2009 and just their second in program history.
And with their latest triumph, they claimed a district championship trophy.
During their postgame celebration, Cascade players dumped a bucket of ice on coach Mike Perrine.
“These girls, the success we’ve had this season, it’s all fun,” said Perrine, who took over the program in 2020. “Keep it fun with these girls, and they play their best. So I should’ve known (the ice bucket) was coming, because that’s right up their alley.”
The Bruins were coming off a storybook comeback in Tuesday’s district semifinals, when they rallied from a 12-2 sixth-inning deficit to earn a 14-12 state-clinching win over sixth-seeded Arlington on a walkoff grand slam by junior Ashlyee Bloch.
On Thursday, Cascade’s hot-hitting lineup picked up right where it left off.
The Bruins exploded for 10 runs in the first two innings and finished the game with 15 hits, including 10 of the extra-base variety.
Pryor and junior Abby Surowiec each belted a pair of homers for Cascade. Bloch and junior Alexa Hamshaw added a homer and a double apiece. Sophomore Jaidyn Wilson also homered and freshman Tessa Hahn chipped in three hits.
The Bruins scored a combined 28 runs over their past two games, including 22 runs total over the final two innings of Tuesday’s semifinal and the first two innings of Thursday’s championship.
Cascade snapped a 16-game win streak for Wesco 3A/2A champion Snohomish (19-4), which hadn’t lost since a 2-1 defeat to Shorewood on March 25.
“We’ve been a late-hitting team as of lately and I told these girls, ‘If we play seven full innings together, we’re dangerous,’” Perrine said. “And that’s exactly what they did. “They came out today and jumped on good pitches and saw the ball down and hit well. … The ball was definitely leaving the yard.”
The Bruins raced to a 4-0 lead in the top of the first, highlighted by back-to-back solo homers from Pryor and Surowiec.
Then after Snohomish answered with two runs in the bottom of the first, Cascade poured it on with a six-run second. Surowiec crushed a two-run homer to right field, Wilson lined a solo shot to left-center and Bloch hit a three-run double off the fence to give the Bruins a 10-2 lead.
Cascade continued its long-ball party in the sixth with solo shots from Bloch, Pryor and Hamshaw to make it 14-4.
“It’s actually crazy,” Pryor said of her team’s seven home runs. “We just kept piling them on and piling them on. We were counting them. We were like, ‘Oh my goodness. This is insane.’”
Surowiec pitched a complete game for the Bruins and helped limit the damage from Snohomish’s high-powered lineup. The Panthers’ seven runs matched their fewest in their past nine games.
Senior Alli Wilson doubled twice and junior Emma Hansen had four hits for Snohomish, which clinched a state berth Tuesday with a wild 15-14 semifinal win over fifth-seeded Everett.
Next up for both teams in the 3A state tournament May 27-28 in Lacey.
“We’re all really, really pumped to go,” Pryor said. “… We are so excited to go to state and just play and have fun. I’m excited to see what we can do, because I have really, really high hopes for this team.”