AUGUSTA — Mikhaela Helm enjoys a competitive softball game as much as anyone. She also welcomes a relaxed environment that only summer days can bring.

She experienced the best of both playing for a summer high school league under the umbrella of the Capital Area Youth Softball Association.

“It was so much more relaxed,” said Helm, an Erskine Academy graduate who will attend the University of Southern Maine. “We could have fun with it, but at the same time be competitive. We could get right into it.”

The high school summer league, comprised of 10 teams from Central Maine, will play its second annual all-star game at 3 p.m. Sunday in Augusta.

The 10-inning game featuring 40 players — four from every team — will be played at Minutemen Field at the Piggery Road complex.

The summer softball league has been around for several years, but it only became organized with playoffs and an all-star game within the last two.

“This really is our second year doing it,” said Trisha Watson, a league coordinator who coaches the Augusta team. “We opened it up to more teams this year because we are trying to get all the surrounding area high school-aged girls to get a summer league growing.”

Winslow, Skowhegan, Messalonskee, Lawrence, Erskine, Gardiner and Winthrop fielded teams.

Gardiner won the title.

“We’ve been together for quite awhile,” said Gardiner coach Rob McKay. “It’s a good league with a lot of good teams.”

It’s certainly grown, although it hasn’t been easy.

Greg Helm, who coaches the Erskine team, acknowledged it’s been tough to compete with the likes of summer basketball, field hockey and soccer leagues. However, there was still ample interest in the program.

“One of the things we notice is that girls’ opportunities are still behind,” he said. “In baseball, you have Babe Ruth and all the summer leagues. Other than getting in (American Softball Association) tournaments, and usually that is for the elite girls, there isn’t a lot out there.

“We wanted to get this league going. It’s been a loosely run league, but we’ve become pretty organized.”

Teams played three games in a week, including one doubleheader. Most of the games were played in Augusta. Players were then selected to the all-star game.

“Each team did it differently,” Greg Helm said. “Some had the players pick the all-stars, others had the coaches. It should be a great game.”

And one Mikhaela Helm is looking forward to playing.

“Definitely,” she said. “We’ve been working pretty hard. It’s going to be a lot of fun to play in it.”

Bill Stewart — 621-5640

[email protected]

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