A somewhat cleaner version of one of the other answers is:

val s = Seq("apple", "oranges", "apple", "banana", "apple", "oranges", "oranges")

s.groupBy(identity).mapValues(_.size)

giving a Map with a count for each item in the original sequence:

Map(banana -> 1, oranges -> 3, apple -> 3)

The question asks how to find the count of a specific item. With this approach, the solution would require mapping the desired element to its count value as follows:

s.groupBy(identity).mapValues(_.size)("apple")