AUBURN — Edward Little’s baseball and softball season kicked off Monday with pitchers and catchers working on conditioning and throwing on the Red Eddies’ football field.

Senior pitchers Drew Smith and Leah Thibodeau are looking forward to strong senior seasons for their teams.

As per Maine Principals’ Association rules, the teams are limited on what drills and exercises they can run, but Edward Little baseball coach Dave Jordan said this week is good for the pitchers and catchers to “shake the cobwebs off.”

The rest of the baseball and softball players and the other spring sports begin practices next Monday.

“We’re getting our routine down, getting our form down, kind of preparing our bodies to start having a bigger load of throwing as you move forward to the season, and then we’ll start getting to the bullpen and later on,” Jordan said.

Adding to the softball team’s first-day-of-the-season excitement, head coach Elaine Derosby said, was that Monday was the first time the team was able to utilize an outdoor facility thanks to the football field’s artificial turf. In past years, the baseball and softball teams spent much of the preseason practicing inside in the gymnasium.

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“It feels good. I think girls are excited to be outside. We haven’t had a facility where we can be outside, so I think it makes it more real,” Derosby said. “I think they’ll have a little bit more excitement in their movements today.”

Smith signed a national letter of intent in November to play baseball at the University of Connecticut. He is looking forward to finishing his high school career on a high note. Smith said he added 15 pounds of muscle in the offseason and followed an intense training program to come into this season stronger and more confident.

“I was training about five days a week, I was throwing five and probably training six,” Smith said. “Keeping my body healthy, doing a lot of preventative stuff and getting stronger. I was throwing two bullpens a week, one of them was against hitters. I was also doing a lot more stability work this offseason, as well as mobility and strength, lifting three days a week.”

Jordan said Smith throws a 90 mph pitch, and deemed Smith the hardest high school pitcher he has coached.

“For high school, that’s exceptional,” Jordan said. “I’ve had some pretty hard throwers, but he’s definitely the hardest one.

“He’s just a young man that puts a ton of time into the game, very well-conditioned. He takes responsibility for himself, in terms of preparing, and he’s in tremendous shape and ready to get going with the season and really be a great leader.”

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Derosby said Thibodeau is a consistent player who is heading her fourth season as a varsity starter pitcher. Thibodeau said she trained at the cages in the offseason, and pitched, and she hopes her hard work in the offseason will show in games this spring.

“Honestly, the emotions didn’t really hit me until we started,” Thibodeau said about starting her last season as a Red Eddie. “I’m ready to go, and I know my teammates are, too. It’s crazy that this is the last one …

“I’m just expecting to stay consistent and I’m expecting my teammates to do the same, as well. I know coaches will be, and I’m just hoping to be successful.”

Edward Little’s campus is still under construction, and the new baseball and softball field aren’t expected to be finished until next school year. The baseball and softball teams will both practice and play games at Central Maine Community College fields, as they often have the past few seasons.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

The Edward Little baseball team reached the Class A state championship game, where the Red Eddies fell to South Portland.

They essentially had three aces last season. Smith is back, but Brady Vincent and Campbell Cassidy graduated and are playing college baseball now.

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Vincent currently plays at CMCC, and he hit the first home run of his college career last week. Cassidy is a relief pitcher at Merrimack, and Jordan said he pitched well in his first game of the season against Michigan State.

Jordan said the team so far — tryouts for spring sports are next week — is a mix of veteran and new players. He said there are 12 solid returners from last year’s squad.

“We have a couple of senior lefties who we are excited about, a few righties, seniors. I think that some of the names you may hear are from other sports, like Eli St. Laurent,” Jordan said. “We haven’t had to utilize these guys the last few years, we’ve been able to just use them position-wise and we’ve had a lot of pitching.”

St. Laurent, who also excels for the Edward Little boys soccer and basketball teams, also will play centerfield. He was the Eddies’ leadoff hitter last year.

Jordan said junior TJ Kramarz and senior Kade Masselli will again be assets to the team and players to watch this season as it progresses.

Jordan said there are talented pitchers ready to step up behind Smith.

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“Owen Scott was our primary reliever last year,” Jordan said. “He didn’t have to throw a ton of relief, because our guys did pretty well for starters. He’s a solid guy and a senior.”

Derosby said the softball team, which reached the A North quarterfinals in 2023, will miss graduates Madisyn Scott, Amanda Raymond, Erin Cowie and Kayla Blanchard, but stepping up for the senior class this season will be Thibodeau, Izzy Jalbert, Emily Horton and Tiana Avila.

Two juniors, Lexi Kelsea and Kassidy Lobb, are also returning to the team and should again make an impact, Derosby said.

SEASON EXPECTATIONS

Derosby is entering her 20th season of coaching softball, and said she treats the week before tryouts as a flexible way to arrange and test lineups and rosters.

“The first couple weeks is pretty fluid,” Derosby said. “I have my core, and then we always say, ‘Where else can we fit in the puzzle pieces? If this person is pitching, what puzzle pieces do we need to fit? If this person’s catching, what puzzle pieces do we need to fit,’ and so on.”

Jordan said he uses the pre-tryout week as a way to condition the players and work on throwing techniques.

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“We also use it as a cultural thing, so we utilize just about our whole program,” Jordan said, “we have another group come in after this to work on their throwing technique and pitching technique and stuff like. So it’s great, because you can get to know the guys and teach them what we’re going to do.”

Smith said he is excited to “get rolling with the boys,” and that he sees how hardworking each player is and how much effort the team put into the offseason with the goal of a strong finish this year.

Thibodeau said the team is “some of my bestest friends,” and she’s excited for her final high school season.

“I’m excited to finish this with them, but I don’t want to leave,” Thibodeau said. “It’s hard to see the chapter closing. But, unfortunately, it is, so I think it’ll be a good season to just kind of finish it all off.”

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