Windham catcher Stella Jarvais gets ready to tag Biddeford’s Charlotte Donovan at the plate during an early season Class A South showdown on April 20. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

Stella Jarvais remembers the final scenes of the Windham softball team’s season last June, watching Biddeford celebrate a trip back to the championship game following a 2-0 victory in the Class A South final.

Even then, in the midst of the sadness and disappointment, she could see the silver lining.

“Being a young team last year, we were like ‘We’ve got this next year,'” said Jarvais, a junior catcher. “We were very much ready to be here (again).”

One year later, the Eagles head into the Class A South playoffs in perfect position to make a run at the championship berth that eluded them. Windham is the second seed at 14-2, behind only Biddeford, which at 15-1 is seeking a third straight regional title.

Biddeford was the only southern Maine softball team to finish its season with a state title, but a handful of teams that came oh-so-close are back in prime position for another run. Kennebunk/Sanford, which took Biddeford to the wire before falling 5-4 in the South semifinals, is a third seed at 14-2. In Class B South, York, which lost a 3-2 heartbreaker to Gardiner in the regional final, is again the top seed at 15-1. Poland, which lost to Gardiner 6-2 in the semifinals as the third seed, is a challenger again as the fourth seed at 13-3.

York, the top seed in the Class B South playoffs, is led by McKayla Kortes, who hit .519 this spring and posted a 9-1 record as a pitcher with an 0.55 ERA. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

For those teams, reaching the brink of a state final or dueling the eventual champion has lingered in their minds, and has given them a dose of motivation and a necessary learning experience as they’ve pursued another chance.


“It’s been a motivating factor from Day 1,” said York Coach Kevin Giannino. “That was the motivation, to get back to a position where we could go for it again.”

Windham went into the South final on a 78-inning scoreless streak, but ended up losing to Biddeford for the fourth straight time. Coming into this season, the Eagles tried to remember the feeling while maintaining the focus necessary to get back.

“It’s definitely been in the back of our mind,” said junior pitcher Brooke Gerry, who’s 8-0 with a 0.25 ERA and who, along with sophomore Kennedy Kimball (6-1, 1.59 ERA), has formed a potent pitching combination for the Eagles. “We always remember our end goal. (We’ve been) taking it pitch by pitch this year, at least we’re trying to. We’re trying to get over the small humps in the road. But at the end of the day, we’re really focused on that end goal.”

Windham’s Brooke Gerry celebrates after crossing home plate during the Eagles’ victory over Biddeford on April 20. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

First-year coach Darcey Gardiner called last year’s defeat an “unspoken” motivation. As the playoffs have arrived, the Eagles have been a little more vocal.

“The motivation, the drive, the desire, it’s all right there within arm’s reach for these girls,” she said. “Now we speak about it a little bit more.”

Kennebunk/Sanford let a 4-2 lead against Biddeford slip away in a three-run sixth inning in the regional semifinals last year. Senior catcher Emily Hutchins remembers the feeling.


“There was the disappointment, frustration, anger at myself thinking I could have done something different,” she said. “It was really sad seeing the season end so soon, knowing we had more in us.”

There is an upside, however, to coming within a run of beating the best team in the state.

“Us being there last year and having that experience kind of gave us a little confidence,” said Coach Eddie Pike, whose team has thrived with the addition of Sanford players Madi and Megan Sheppard, Azline Maurais, Julissa McBarron and Hannah Mueller. “‘Hey, we can compete with this team.'”

Julia Pike was one of five freshman in the Kennebunk lineup last season. “It feels a little different,” she says of this year. “We know and we understand what it’s like to be on this varsity team, and we know how to act and how to play and work together.” Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

Kennebunk had five freshmen in the lineup last year. With a young team gaining more experience this spring, the team hopes it is prepared for its playoff test.

“It feels a little different,” said sophomore pitcher Julia Pike, 11-2 with a 1.17 ERA. “We know and we understand what it’s like to be on this varsity team, and we know how to act and how to play and work together.”

In Class B, York entered the 2022 playoffs as the regional favorite, only to fall to Gardiner in the final when the tying and winning runs were left on base. The Wildcats are determined to make it one game farther.

“We certainly have the talent to get it done, the girls know they have the talent to get it done,” said Giannino, whose team is led by McKayla Kortes’ .519 average at the plate and 9-1 record with a 0.55 ERA in the circle. “During the year, it was ‘Let’s get this one and prepare for the next one.’ Now the talk is, ‘Listen girls, we’re here, this is our opportunity. Let’s get it done this year.'”

Over in Poland, the Knights head into the playoffs riding confidence that was fueled, not dented, by their playoff defeat.

“At the end of the Gardiner game, they absolutely were upset, they expected to play better,” Coach Katrina Meader said. “But I continued to remind them that we lost to the team that won states, and that showed that we were able to compete at that level. They know that they can continue to compete at a high level.”

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