WINDHAM — Mosie, the teddy bear, didn’t ask for this. But Kregg Jarvais, coach of Windham’s Little League 11-12 softball state champion team, thought it would be fun to get the bear, bought by his daughter, Stella, at Build-A-Bear, involved in the team’s practice earlier in the week.

So he placed Mosie on a bucket in the infield at Ciccarone Field at Lowell Farm. The players would then try to knock Mosie off its perch with an accurate throw.

“That’s what it’s all about at this age,” said Jarvais, a former University of Maine catcher from Skowhegan who played two seasons in the Boston Red Sox minor league system. “They’re 11-12 year old kids. We’re teaching them to play the right way and go have fun.”

It’s obvious that this team does both – plays the right way and has fun – very well. Windham will represent Maine in the Little League Softball East Regionals in Bristol, Connecticut. Windham will play Peabody, Massachusetts, in its opening game at 4 p.m. Saturday.

“It’s an exciting time for these girls,” said Jarvais.

Windham dominated its four opponents in the state tournament, outscoring them 42-2, behind the pitching of Kennedy Kimball and a balanced batting lineup that didn’t let up. “It’s really nobody that carried us,” said Jarvais. “And that’s really nice. Everyone contributed.”

Windham didn’t make the state tournament a year ago. But this year the team was boosted by eight players who were on last year’s 9-10 state championship team. Some of the team’s older players have been asking the younger ones what it’s like to play at the regional level.

“It’s competitive down there,” said Chloe Edwards, an 11-year-old infielder, who was on that 9-10 team. “When you step on the field, you’ve got to give it all you got because there’s hard teams down there, the best.”

Ask any of the players and they’ll tell you the reason Windham is going to the regionals. They work hard, they stay positive, they love softball and they love being together.

“Everyone wants to be here and everyone wants to improve,” said Stella Jarvais, a 12-year-old shortstop. “Everyone is so happy to be here.”

Oakley McLeod, an 11-year-old second baseman, said the team likes to hang out together. “It’s just a lot of fun being together,” she said.

On the field, the team has shown the ability to come up with big hits – they scored 75 runs in the district and state tournaments – to back the outstanding pitching of Kimball, who has pitched seven of the eight tournament games and has a 0.57 ERA with 80 strikeouts and six walks in 42 innings. McLeod hit .571 and Stella Jarvais hit .522 and Kimball .455.

“She is fantastic,” said Kregg Jarvais, of Kimball. “She’s hard-working, polite, a bulldog. She’s a workhorse who always wants the ball. She’s pretty dominant and it’s always good to have someone like that.”

Stella Jarvais said Kennedy’s best pitch is a change-up. “People don’t expect it but she gets a lot of outs with it,” she said.

And Edwards, who has played in regionals before, said Windham had better be prepared to face that same type of pitching. “We’re going to face that all the time in the tournament,” she said.

But Windham’s players are confident they can make a good showing. Last year’s  9-10 team won two games before being eliminated.

“We have a lot of determination,” said Alyssa Conley, a 12-year-old center fielder. “Everyone has a passion for the sport and everyone enjoys it. That’s what makes us so good.”

Stella Jarvais didn’t seem to mind her bear, Mosie, being used as a practice prop. Mosie will make the trip to Connecticut as  well.

“I don’t mind,” she said. “It’s like making memories.”


Comments are not available on this story.