Ashley Tinsman’s skill and promise as a softball player have taken her around the country.
Playing on elite travel teams, she’s been to softball showdowns and showcases from Florida to California.
“I really like it. It’s really fun to play against (top) competition,” said the Cape Elizabeth High junior shortstop.
But when it came to choosing a college, staying in Maine looks like the right fit.
Tinsman, 17, has verbally committed to accept the University of Maine’s softball scholarship offer, which was offered during her sophomore season at Cape Elizabeth. She won’t be able to sign a letter of intent until the fall.
“I took all summer exploring different colleges and seeing my options, and I just found my way back to Maine,” Tinsman said as she sat inside the Cape softball dugout after a recent practice.
“I just really like it up there and I really like the coach. I ended up (accepting) in September.”
At Cape Elizabeth, Tinsman has shined as a power-hitting shortstop with superior range and a powerful arm.
“She does everything. She’s got the whole package,” said veteran Cape Coach Joe Henrikson.
In two high school seasons, Tinsman has belted 13 home runs. Last year she hit .524 with six homers, five doubles and three triples. Tinsman was named the Western Maine Conference Class B Player of the Year and helped Cape go 16-2 and reach the Western Class B semifinals.
“You have to see her to believe it,” Henrikson said. “As a sophomore, to be named Player of the Year, that’s unheard of.”
Shortstop isn’t even Tinsman’s primary position. She plays it at Cape because that’s where Henrikson believes she gives his team its most significant upgrade.
At Maine she expects to be a catcher, the position she usually plays with travel teams.
Tinsman said Maine appealed to her for many reasons. The size of the university seems comfortable, and she didn’t want to go to college in an urban setting. She also liked the players and coaching staff.
“I’ve known the Maine coach (Lynn Coutts) for a couple of years so I’m really comfortable with her,” Tinsman said. “She was a coach (and owner) of Frozen Ropes (training facility). She wasn’t my coach but I’ve known her through that.”
Tinsman also likes the way Coutts is building a roster that mixes some of the best in-state talent with quality players from across the country. Maine is 14-13 this year after going 8-39 in 2013 and 17-30-1 in 2012, Coutts’ first season as coach.
“She’s doing a good job of building the program so once I get there it’s going to be really good,” Tinsman said.
Tinsman, who comes across as modest yet confident, has two more seasons of high school softball but already has an advanced approach at the plate.
“You watch this kid once and she is the most disciplined and mechanically sound kid I’ve ever seen,” said Poland High Coach Katharine McKay. “One thing any pitcher wants to do in this league is to strike her out. Honestly, that’s going to be tough to do.”
The 5-foot-9 Tinsman is strong and calm at the plate. Batting right-handed, she takes a short stride for power but has the athletic ability to stay on balance.
McKay said Tinsman’s fielding may be even more impressive.
“I know people don’t like to hear it put this way but the best way I can describe it is she plays like a boy,” McKay said. “She’s diving all out, giving herself up to get the ball. And she’s got an arm. She goes deep in the hole and throws runners out by steps.”
Tinsman played baseball instead of softball until she was 12. Baseball was her father’s best sport when he went to Cape Elizabeth and it’s played by all her brothers.
Chris Tinsman is a senior catcher at Cheverus who has committed to Rhode Island. Brendan (eighth grade) and Jake (fifth grade) are still at the early stages of their baseball careers.
Tinsman held her own, too, including throwing a couple of Little League no-hitters.
“Then I started realizing there were higher-level softball teams and I started liking it more,” she said.
Before she entered her freshman year of high school, Tinsman was already on an under-18 roster and hitting the road.
This summer she’ll play for the Polar Crush out of Devens, Mass., with a trip to Oklahoma on the calendar and plenty of opportunities to continue to refine her game.
First, though, she plans on helping Cape Elizabeth post another strong season.
“We have a good ballclub so it’s really fun,” Tinsman said. “We were really good last year so we should be as good if not better. Our whole lineup can hit. Everyone can field well. And we just have really positive attitudes and good team chemistry.”
Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or at: