Cascade pitcher Alexa Hamshaw allowed just two runs in a complete-game performance, helping lead the Bruins to a key 6-2 win over Shorewood on Monday at Phil Johnson Ballfields in Everett. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Cascade pitcher Alexa Hamshaw allowed just two runs in a complete-game performance, helping lead the Bruins to a key 6-2 win over Shorewood on Monday at Phil Johnson Ballfields in Everett. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Cascade softball earns key win, continues breakthrough season

The upstart Bruins beat Shorewood 6-2 and stamp themselves as bona fide Wesco 3A/2A title contenders.

EVERETT — After years of struggles, the Cascade High School softball team is enjoying a breakthrough season this spring.

And with their biggest win yet, the upstart Bruins solidified themselves as bona fide league-title contenders in the wide-open Wesco 3A/2A.

Abigail Surowiec blasted a two-run homer to spark a five-run sixth inning as Cascade rallied for its seventh consecutive win, beating Shorewood 6-2 in a key league clash Monday afternoon at Phil Johnson Ballfields.

“Coming from seasons where we struggled and then to see the success finally paying out for these girls — they work hard and they deserve it all,” Bruins coach Mike Perrine said.

Prior to this spring, Cascade had 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.

Cascade (10-4, 8-1 Wesco 3A/2A) already has its most wins in a season since 2013, when it claimed the Wesco 4A South crown and finished 19-4.

And the Bruins are firmly in league-title contention, sitting in a four-way tie with Snohomish, Monroe and Everett atop the loss column of the 16-team Wesco 3A/2A standings.

Cascade players said they’ve relished catching opponents by surprise this spring.

“It’s really cool having teams know that we weren’t super good (in the past), and just coming out and playing how we do and them being surprised,” Bruins junior pitcher Alexa Hamshaw said.

“It’s really cool seeing their mentality change when they see that we can actually win.”

Cascade’s turnaround has been spearheaded by the talented junior trio of Hamshaw, Surowiec and shortstop Ashlyee Bloch. They’re part of a young starting lineup that includes just two seniors.

Hamshaw has been strong in the circle this season and is batting .388 with five homers at the plate. Surowiec is hitting .314 with four homers. And Bloch is batting .509.

“Those three have been the rock for this team,” said Perrine, who took over as head coach in 2020. “… They lost their freshman year (in 2020) to COVID, so last year was a big learning curve for them. And I think just having that one year under their belt has been huge.”

Cascade players cheer in the dugout. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Cascade players cheer in the dugout. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Monday was an opportunity for the Bruins to prove themselves against a Shorewood team that entered with only one loss in league play.

Cascade trailed 2-1 entering the bottom of the sixth, having mustered just two hits through five innings against Shorewood senior ace Rebecca Carson.

But the Bruins broke through in the sixth, exploding with a five-run outburst to surge in front.

“I always tell these girls (that) making adjustments is the biggest thing in this game,” Perrine said. “Give all credit to that pitcher. Man, she’s tough to hit. A lot of movement.

“But the more you see these pitchers, the easier they come to hit. The timing gets there (and) micro-adjustments get made. And I think that’s just what it was. … The girls seeing her for the third time was really the difference-maker.”

After Cascade senior Katelyn Pryor led off the bottom of the sixth with a bunt single, Surowiec launched a go-ahead two-run homer over the left-center field fence to give the Bruins a 3-2 lead. Surowiec rounded the bases and then jumped on home plate, where she was mobbed by her teammates in celebration.

“She’s got that bat,” Perrine said. “She’s a contact hitter, but she has the ability to pop one at any moment.”

Hamshaw and sophomore Jaidyn Wilson, the next two batters, then hammered back-to-back doubles that extended Cascade’s lead to 4-2.

Wilson later scored on a well-executed bunt by junior Taylor Browne. And senior Sarah Anderson added a sacrifice fly to stretch the margin to 6-2.

“After one hit, then we all kind of worked up the ladder and kept hitting,” Surowiec said.

Hamshaw pitched a complete game and allowed just two runs while scattering seven hits. She struck out eight batters and walked none.

Her biggest moment came in the fourth inning, when she escaped a bases-loaded jam with back-to-back strikeouts.

“(She had) good movement and she kept the hitters off balance,” Perrine said. “… Any time you have zero walks in a game, you give yourself a pretty good shot.”

Shorewood (12-4, 9-2) took an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first, when Carson lined a triple down the right-field line and came in to score on a groundout.

In the bottom of the fourth, Surowiec drew a leadoff walk and advanced to second on a single by Hamshaw. Surowiec then took third on a wild pitch and scored on a throwing error to tie the game at 1-1.

Shorewood regained the lead in the top of the sixth, when sophomore Eliana Alsdorf drove a run-scoring double over the left fielder’s head to give the Stormrays a 2-1 edge.

But the Bruins responded in a big way, exploding for five runs in the bottom half of the frame to seize control.

“It was a team win,” Hamshaw said. “… None of us got down. We all just picked each other up when we needed it and worked together to get the win.”

Carson pitched six innings for Shorewood, allowing five earned runs and seven hits. She struck out 10 batters and walked just two.

Similar to Cascade, the Stormrays are another program on the rise.

Shorewood went 10-3 during last year’s abbreviated season, which marked its first winning record in at least a decade. The Stormrays have already surpassed that win total this year, highlighted by a signature 2-1 victory over perennial powerhouse Snohomish on March 25.

Shorewood fell to fifth place in Wesco 3A/2A with its loss Monday. The Stormrays trail the first-place group of Cascade, Snohomish (11-3, 8-1), Monroe (10-2, 7-1) and Everett (9-1, 6-1) by one game in the loss column.

Shorewood has four league games remaining, including a matchup against Monroe.

Cascade has six league games left, capped by a pivotal three-game stretch against fellow league-title contenders Snohomish, Everett and Monroe. All three of those teams have had considerable success in recent years, but don’t expect the Bruins to be fazed.

“We’re definitely underestimated,” Surowiec said. “It’s fun being the underdog.”

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