Windham’s Little League all-stars will represent Maine in the Little League Softball East Region Tournament, which starts Friday in Bristol, Connecticut.

The team, comprised of 13 girls aged 10 to 12, will take on state champions from nine other Northeast states in the double-elimination tournament, with the winner earning a spot in the Little League Softball World Series in Greenville, North Carolina, in August.

Maine will play Maryland’s Delmar Little League all-stars at 4 p.m. Saturday in a game streaming on ESPN+.

“Every team that’s going down there is going to be good,” said Manager Nick Caiazzo, a former baseball player for the University of Maine and the Milwaukee Brewers farm system. “But if we can stay focused on the game and not get wrapped up in all the other noise, we’ll be fine.”

Windham earned the right to represent Maine by defeating Ellsworth 9-1 in the state title game on July 13. Between the district and state tournaments, Windham’s all-star squad has compiled a 7-1 record since it formed in early June.

“We’ve got some great leadership,” said Caiazzo, who cited the team’s balanced mix of experienced veterans and younger role players as a key to their success. “There’s no prima donna. They’re all engaged, they all want to be there, and they’re all pulling for each other.”

“I think we work really well as a team,” said pitcher Lacie Higgins, 13, who started and earned the win in the state final against Ellsworth.

Asked whether she thought the team had a chance to reach regionals when the season began, Higgins answered confidently: “Yes. Definitely.”

Success isn’t new to Windham softball, which also represented Maine at the 2019 East Region Tournament. In 2018, a team of Windham 9- and 10-year-olds featuring Higgins and teammate Addison Caiazzo, Nick’s daughter, won a state title and competed at a regional tournament in Scranton, Pennsylvania.

Veterans of the 2019 state championship team joined the all-stars on Tuesday to share advice, according to Nick Caiazzo. They discussed life in the dorms where the team will stay and the importance of blocking out distractions.

Jason McLeod, the president of Windham Little League, said the town’s dominance stems from two factors: its dedicated players and its pipeline of engaging coaches.

“He has a very unique ability of rallying girls, keeping the game fun,” McLeod said of Caiazzo. “He instills a perspective on the game that makes the girls want to keep coming back every single year.”

While many other towns minimize travel for regular-season games, Windham focuses on getting its teams as much experience as possible, said Caiazzo, who co-owns The Edge Academy, a baseball and softball training center.

“We play everyone. Wherever – doesn’t matter, we’ll go play,” he said. “That’s just kind of been our mindset the last three, four years.”

While the pandemic shut down many leagues last year, Windham hosted games and practices through June and July, Caiazzo said.

“We literally were there four days a week,” he said. “We didn’t take last season off. I think that is a huge reason why we’re able to be in the situation we’re in now.”

McLeod has been in charge of rapidly raising money for the trip to Connecticut – a job he’s getting used to after coaching two previous state championship squads.

“There’s kind of a sense of urgency already embedded and built into this whole process,” said McLeod. “First and foremost, there’s not a lot of time to do it.”

The Windham community has quickly rallied to support the team, which has raised over $12,500 in just over a week through its GoFundMe page.

“We’re going to see $20,000 easily,” said McLeod, who said the funds will help cover the cost of new uniforms, travel and hotels. “The support we have is just unreal.”

“I’m very excited,” said pitcher Addison Caiazzo, 12. “Just knowing how much our team and our coaches and everyone has put into this, and just knowing that we’re representing Maine – it’s a huge deal.”


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