Skowhegan catcher Tucker Corson, left, retrieves the ball after blocking a wild pitch as Andy Valley batter Landon Hollbrook stands in the box during an 11U Cal Ripken state tournament game Thursday in Fairfield. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

FAIRFIELD — Last year, the epicenter of Cal Ripken baseball could be found just south of here when Waterville hosted the 12U/60 World Series.

It’s not the Major World Series that’s bringing people to the region this year, but there’s plenty of players, parents and spectators descending on central Maine. This year, Fairfield is hosting the 11U state championships, which began Wednesday and will continue through Sunday.

Six of the state’s top teams went through qualifying to participate in the tournament. There’s host Fairfield and Skowhegan, two central Maine participants; there’s Andy Valley and Noble, two leagues that will sound familiar to those who took in last year’s World Series; and there’s also two newcomers, Brunswick and Marshwood.

“I think it’s always a great experience when you get to these tournaments and get to play some teams that are in other districts, not just your own towns,” said Skowhegan head coach Scott Libby. “That’s the great thing about youth sports, and it’s great when you have things like that in your area.”

The 11U tournament, which follows last week’s 12U tournament in Berwick, highlights a form of youth baseball that’s popular in the region. Communities from Readfield to Waterville to northern Franklin County have teams, many of which take the namesakes of their local high schools.

Skowhegan catcher, Tucker Corson tries to catch the ball as Andy Valley baserunner Noah Coleman slides safely into home during an 11U Cal Ripken state tournament game Thursday in Fairfield. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

It’s becoming even more popular statewide since last year’s World Series. Prior to last August’s event, Maine Cal Ripken Commissioner Reg Hatfield said, there were 36 Cal Ripken leagues statewide. When a new baseball season dawned this spring, there were 52.


“I think it’s a very good developmental league that these small communities really like,” Libby said. “It’s very user-friendly from a town perspective as far as players, coaches and volunteers. It gives a lot of chances to play baseball all summer long, and that’s what it’s all about.”

Upon taking over as commissioner, Hatfield made it his mission to give hosting opportunities to areas throughout the state, not just its well-known population hubs. Central Maine has been a key part of that rotation, and after the past 12 months, the commissioner likes what he’s seen.

“I think last year sparked a lot of interest and you’ve seen that carry over,” Hatfield said. “Last year, when you saw all the people in town and kids getting a chance to play on TV, that got a lot of people excited, and that excitement has really stayed.”


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Little League District 5 has always had a central Maine-heavy presence on the baseball diamond — and this year, it’s got a central Maine-only presence.

With the departure of Lewiston to Cal Ripken following the 2022 season, only two teams remain in the district: Augusta Little League and Hall Dale Little League. Those two teams will battle for titles in two separate divisions this weekend.

The two leagues’ 12U teams will open a three-game series at 7 p.m. Friday at Linscott Field in Augusta. They will meet again at 3 p.m. Saturday at Vaughn Field in Hallowell, where they will, if necessary, meet a third time at 4 p.m. Sunday for a winner-take-all Game 3.

Skowhegan and Andy Valley get set to compete in an 11U Cal Ripken state tournament game Thursday in Fairfield. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

The Augusta team is led by a strong pitching trio in Ben Allen and twins Davis and Nolan Noyes, who can also hit well and play the field. Prior to the formation of the All-Star team, the league’s three 12U squads enjoyed a tremendous 2023 regular season.

“We had some great numbers, numbers that were the largest we’ve seen in many, many years,” said head coach Thad Barber. “It’s been a great year. We have a lot of kids playing baseball here right now, and it’s great to see.”

The 11U squads will open a three-game series at 7 Friday at Rivelli Field in Augusta before meeting at noon Saturday at Vaughn. If necessary, a decisive third game will be held at Vaughn at 1 Saturday.


“I think you’re going to see some good games,” Barber said. “It’s a new season now that it’s All-Stars, but you can always count on Hall Dale to be sound and well-coached.”

Winners will play in their respective state tournaments, scheduled for July 15-17 in Augusta (11U) and July 22-24 in Hermon (12U).


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It’s that time of year in softball, too, as Little League and Babe Ruth teams from all across Maine prepare for district and state championships.

On the Little League circuit, the Major League (11-12) state championships are set for July 8-12 in Brewer. The Minor League (8-10) championships will run from July 15-19 in Ellsworth.

The Babe Ruth 8U, 10U and 12U state championships are scheduled for July 14-16 at the Ham Recreation Complex in Bridgton.

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