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Stella and the Starfires

Local Team Launches First-Ever Female Mascot

From an early age, Stella Starfire knew she wanted to fly higher and faster than anyone had ever flown. Her great-great grandmother was a founding member of the 99s, Amelia Earharts’ all-female pilot organization, and flying had always been part of her family legacy. As the first-ever female mascot in baseball, Stella has been commissioned to inspire and empower other young women to join in her mission to “fly higher and faster than anyone has ever flown.” 

When co-founders Don Moorhouse and Chris Thompson launched summer collegiate baseball in Westfield with the Starfires, they made innovation and engagement a priority. “We knew we had to capture the imagination of local baseball fans, but also the community at large,” said Moorhouse. “With each step, we’d ask if we were leaving anyone out of the process.” His business partner, Chris Thompson, had the answer. “I started thinking about my four-year-old daughter,” he said. “How does she relate to what we are doing? Sports in general is a male dominated business. Who are the role models for her?”

From inception, the Westfield Starfires, owned by two men with extensive sport marketing backgrounds, relied heavily on female influences to introduce their brand. Chikmedia was hired to handle the official launch of the team in February of 2019, a sold-out event at the Shortstop Bar and Grill. “We talked to a lot of PR and promotions companies,” said Thompson. “We hired Chikmedia because they understood our vision.” Moorhouse believes the company’s influence greatly impacted the exposure at a critical stage. “Meghan Rothschild and her team refined our ideas and turned them into practical objectives that enabled us to present The Starfires in a truly professional way,” he said. “Because of them, we had a major league launch that really helped carry us through Year One.” Much of the offseason has been devoted to the introduction of Stella Starfire.

Celebration, FL is a long way from Westfield. It is here, at an Italian restaurant in the little town Walt Disney built, that the Moorhouse family gathers for an annual dinner between Westfield State spring baseball games. “It has become a tradition,” Moorhouse said. “For the better part of a decade we have had at least one son playing for WSU and my daughter works for Disney.” According to Moorhouse, the dinner provides a great opportunity for good-natured sibling-jousting, reminiscing, and brain-storming. “We started talking about mascots, innovation, and our desire to be unique,” he said. “My daughter picked up her phone, did a quick search and came up with a caricature of a young female fighter pilot. She captioned it ‘Stella Starfire’.” That photo quickly found its way back to Thompson via text and he went to work.

Enlisting Jessica Roncarati Howe of ...and Then There Were Three, a sketch and profile of Stella was developed that gave the team a starting point. Howe donated a pilot suit and went on an exhaustive search for Stella through casting calls, social media posts, and personal interviews. The search ended with Valerie Paul of Gemini Productions, who introduced the team to Ashley Navarro. The Ludlow resident impressed everyone from her first day on the job. “There were a lot of moving parts on the day of the photo shoot,” said Moorhouse. “We had multiple times and locations and a few delays. She just rolled with it. She is a real professional, and we are thrilled that she will be the face of our brand.”

While Moorhouse and Thompson are proud of introducing the first-ever female mascot at this level, they both understand they must continue to innovate. The introduction of Stella comes at a time when sports at all levels have been postponed or canceled and gatherings are prohibited. “We are constantly watching for signs of hope and pitching in, as an organization, where we can,” said Moorhouse. “We are optimistic that there will be a season. Baseball is such an important part of Westfield’s history, and we are honored to be part of that legacy.”

The partnership, developed over a decade of friendship and solidified over a beer at The Hangar in Westfield, has resolved to honor this iconic baseball town by paying homage to its veterans with the Starfire brand (an F94 Fighter once stationed at Barnes), engaging its ballplayers with partnerships with Babe Ruth and Little League, and empowering its youth with Stella. With a 15-year lease at historic Bullens Field, and an army of local baseball players to augment a roster of the best college players from across the country, the Starfires have set themselves up for the long haul.

They are also preparing for a scenario without a season. “We will be active on social media and developing ways to support our corporate partners,” said Thompson. “We will have some very dynamic content available on our site at, and unique opportunities for fans to be part of exclusive experiences with the Starfires.” While baseball has been temporarily put on hold as we deal with the impact of Covid 19, the business of baseball goes on, and the Starfires are gearing up for sunny days at Bullens with top-notch collegiate ball, fans in the Beer Garden, and fireworks out in centerfield.

“The Starfires are more than baseball.  We’re about connecting communities and engaging them in a way that has a positive impact.” -Owner and co-founder Christopher Thompson


Ashley Navarro

Ashley Navarro is from Ludlow, MA. She is currently enrolled in the Nursing Program at Holyoke Community College and has an extensive background working in film and television. She was an award-winning cheerleader at Ludlow High School and served as Team Captain her senior year. Along with her work with The Starfires, Ashley is a preschool assistant at the Ludlow Boys and Girls Club.

Starfire IPA

Starfire IPA is joint-venture between Amherst Brewing Company and the Westfield Starfires. The IPA is brewed with wheat and oats, and hopped with El Dorado, Amarillo and Citra. It is sold exclusively at Hangar locations and at Bullens Field during Starfires games. In the summer of 2019, it was the top-selling beverage at the ballpark.