Central Maine knows what to expect when the 15-and-under New England Babe Ruth regional tournament opens play Saturday.

After all, the team is in a regional tournament for a third straight summer — it also played in the 13U and 14U tournaments.

As for the Skowhegan 11-and-under Cal Ripken team, which will host the New England regional this weekend?

“We don’t know what to expect,” Skowhegan coach Ken Reed said. “No idea. We get to sleep in our own bads. That I know. Maybe that will help us.”

Central Maine and Skowhegan open play in their respective New England regional tournaments Saturday.

Skowhegan will play Oxford, Conn., at 5 p.m. at the Carl Wright Complex.

Central Maine will be in Manchester, N.H. with all games scheduled at Gill Stadium, which has artificial turf. Central Maine will play Bennington, Vt. at 10 a.m.

“I think we’ll be ready,” Central Maine coach Tom Bell said. “We have the experience, which is nice. We have the right attitude going down. Instead of being nervous and excited I think this year we’ll be relaxed and excited.”

Dalton Wood started and finished the state tournament run for Central Maine, pitching a pair of complete games to propel the squad into the regionals.

So, naturally, it came as no surprise when Bell tabbed Wood his Saturday starter.

“He’s been tough,” said Bell, whose team fell short in Connecticut last summer. “We’ll give the ball first and then see how it goes from there.”

Added Wood: “I’m excited. Hopefully, we can get it going early.”

Bell said playing on turf shouldn’t be an issue for his team because it squeezed in a few practices at Kents Hill this week.

“Kents Hill has turf fields so we rented them,” Bell said. “None of our guys have played on turf with any regularity before. We just wanted to get used it.”

Wood acknowledged playing on artificial turf is “different.”

“The balls just come at you harder,” he said. “It will be a little different for us but we’ll be ready.”

Unlike previous years, Central Maine enjoyed a full week of practices prior to the regional tournament.

Bell said the team took advantage of the extra time.

“We did an hour of hitting every day to make sure we’re ready to swing the bats,” he said. “We were also able to spend a lot of time on bunt defense and first-and-third situations. It was very helpful.”

Wood agreed.

“We’re ready,” he said. “We know what it’s like to play in these games. Hopefully, we can do a lot better.”

Skowhegan will be joined in its New England regional with Andy Valley, which defeated Skowhegan 4-3 in a winner-take-all game in the state tournament. Both teams qualified as the host team receives an automatic berth.

Andy Valley, which is comprised of players from South Paris and surrounding communities, plays Barrington, N.H. at 10 a.m.

“This is huge for the area,” Reed said. “This is a pretty big deal. Our team has been together the last three years. We’ve lost in the states the last few years but this year we finally got over the top. We got it done.”

Cam Lauder helps lead Skowhegan. Reed said the pitcher/catcher/shortstop was the best player in the state tournament.

“He’s just an all-around player,” he said. “He’s a special player.”

Kyle Kruse will start for Skowhegan against Oxford, Conn.

“He allowed just four runs in 12 innings in the state tournament,” Reed said. “He’s been pitching well. Really, we’ve all been playing well. Things just came together this year.”

Bill Stewart — 621-5618

[email protected]

Twitter: @billstewartmtm

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