AUGUSTA – South Portland High shortstop Danica Gleason hit .667 in the regular season. Her college coach is especially thrilled to get her, considering he thinks she could be a Division I player.
Still, Gleason was genuinely surprised Thursday night when she was announced as the winner of the Miss Maine Softball Award. The award, given annually to the top senior player in the state, was presented between the senior all-star games at Cony Family Field.
“I’m surrounded by the best so it’s just an honor to be here,” Gleason said.
Cassidy Adams of Bucksport, Sam Adams of Sanford, Taylor Banister of Gardiner and Shelby Obert of Skowhegan were the other finalists.
Gleason faced Adams in Western Class A this season.
“She was really my toughest challenge,” Gleason said.
Gleason will attend St. Joseph’s College. Dick Bailey, a co-head coach there with Jamie Smyth, said he’s known Gleason’s father, John, for many years, going back to when John Gleason owned Coastal Athletics and Bailey bought equipment from him during his previous coaching stints at St. Joseph’s and Colby.
“I’ve always had my eye on her and so has Jamie,” Bailey said. “To be honest, we thought we were probably out of the picture because she’s a heck of a ballplayer. She fields. She’s got a rocket for an arm. She’s a good batter. She’s a savvy player.
“I talked to John. I said, ‘you ought to look at St. Joseph’s.’ Fortunately for us they did and more fortunately, this is where she’s going.”
Gleason will play softball and basketball. She and Bailey said that’s a big reason the Monks were able to get her.
“I think she could have been D-I,” Bailey said. “I think she’s that good a ballplayer. She wants to play two sports and you can’t do that at D-I.”
“St. Joe’s was kind of last-minute but I love basketball just as much as I love softball,” Gleason said.
St. Joseph’s finished 34-13 last season and graduated only four players. Still, Bailey expects Gleason to be an immediate contributor.
“We’ve got a heck of a shortstop, Lindsay Moore, and she’s a senior (next year),” Bailey said. “But Danica’s going to be playing a lot of softball for us.”
The games were more casual than anything. Each game was nine innings but an inning would end after five runs.
In the C/D game, Katie Dow and Lindsey Collora of Narraguagus played for the West to even the rosters. In the A/B game, the East batted in alphabetical order by school (the way the players were listed on the roster), which meant Obert didn’t bat until the fifth inning.
After playing third base all spring, Obert played that position for the East, then caught two innings for the West. Meanwhile, Carinn Burns of Kennebunk pitched the ninth inning for both the East and the West, and Gleason switched jerseys with Molly Mack of McAuley.
The West easily won the A/B game, 13-1. Erin Giles of Scarborough pitched two hitless innings and drove a three-run homer over the left-field fence to give the West a 3-0 lead in the third inning. Adams and Kortni Michaud of Oak Hill also pitched two hitless innings apiece, and Kellie Tovey of Sanford added a two-run homer in the eighth.
Michaud struck out four of the six batters she faced and also made a nice play in the hole at shortstop to deny Carly Cosgrove of Bangor an infield single. The East finally got its first hit in the bottom of the seventh when Lindsay Houp of Brewer grounded a single up the middle.
The C/D game ended in a 4-4 tie. The East led 4-3 entering the bottom of the ninth, but Bethany Fox of St. Dominic led off with a single and moved to third on two passed balls. Tasha DeRoche of Dirigo fouled off several pitches from Adams before delivering an RBI groundout to shortstop. Adams, who led Bucksport to the last two Class C state championships, struck out nine and allowed two runs in five innings.
DeRoche and Ashlee Knight of Carrabec combined on the best defensive play of the game in the eighth inning.
DeRoche, playing third, knocked down a hard-hit grounder and threw to first, where Knight stretched as far as she could while still keeping her foot on the bag.