December 5, 2013

Telegram All-State Softball: Riots' Gleason thrived at the plate and in the field

South Portland's Danica Gleason wowed opposing coaches with her potent bat and slick defense.

By Steve Craig
Staff Writer

SOUTH PORTLAND - Danica Gleason could have played any position on the softball field and excelled.

click image to enlarge

Danica Gleason was the SMAA defensive player of the year, primarily as a shortstop, but she also appeared at every other position for South Portland, including pitcher.

John Ewing/Staff Photographer


Samantha Adams, Sanford, senior, pitcher

The SMAA Pitcher of the Year and a finalist for Miss Maine Softball, Adams posted a 1.04 ERA with 148 strikeouts in 107 innings in the regular season, while hitting .490 with four HRs and 20 RBI.


Mariah Albert, Biddeford, senior, right field

Speedy leadoff batter hit .455 and scored 21 runs while going 12 of 12 in steals.


Erin Bogdanovich, South Portland, senior, pitcher/outfielder

Tall left-hander was 11-1 counting playoffs. During the regular season she had 1.15 ERA with 82 strikeouts in 65 innings while batting .650 and going 15 of 15 in stolen bases. She will play for Stetson University in Florida.


Rachel Frye, Oceanside, senior, pitcher

Led Oceanside to the Class B title with a 17-1 record, two no-hitters, four one-hitters and 161 strikeouts in 119 innings. She hit .440 in the regular season.


Danica Gleason, South Portland, senior, shortstop

Named Miss Maine Softball and the Telegram Player of the Year, Gleason hit .667 with an .820 on-base percentage, six doubles, four triples, six HRs and 35 RBI. She will play basketball and softball at St. Joseph's.


Kennadi Grover, Oceanside, senior, first base

Grover finished with a .617 average, four home runs, seven doubles, 29 RBI, 17 steals and a .685 on-base percentage. She struck out just twice in 73 plate appearances.


Sarah Harriman, Fryeburg, junior, pitcher

Posted a 0.72 ERA with 150 strikeouts in 107 innings, and hit .471 with seven doubles, two triples and three home runs.


Sonja Morse, Cony, senior pitcher/shortstop

Morse was 12-1 overall and struck out 130 in the regular season while batting .585 with six homers, two triples and six doubles. She will play at UMass-Lowell.


Shelby Obert, Skowhegan, senior, third base

The KVAC Player of the Year will take her game to UMaine after hitting .502 and leading the Eastern Class A champions in average (.502), hits, triples, RBI and homers (4).


Marisa O'Toole, Scarborough, senior, second base

Hit a two-run homer in the Western Class A final and led off the state final with another homer. A smooth fielder who will play at Bowdoin, she batted .400 with 30 RBI, 30 runs and five homers.


Ashley Tinsman, Cape Elizabeth, sophomore, shortstop

Was named WMC Player of the Year after hitting .534 with six homers, five doubles and three triples.


Carla Tripp, Fryeburg, senior, catcher

Batted .444 with 20 runs and 18 stolen bases, and was known for her lengthy at-bats and strong defensive play. She will attend St. Joseph's.


Alyssa Williamson, Scarborough, junior, pitcher/first base

Finished with a 14-0 record, 0.70 ERA and 130 strikeouts in 90 innings; also batted .422 with six home runs and 35 RBI, and did not strike out for the second straight season. Has verbally committed to Drexel.


Coach of the Year

Rusty Worcester, Oceanside

Guided a team with two freshman starters and six other starters playing new positions to the first Class B state title for the 2-year-old school.


Actually, the recently graduated South Portland star did play every position this season.

After making one pitching start, catching because of a teammate's injury, and playing first base, the Red Riots' shortstop went to Coach Ralph Aceto with a proposition.

"Finally I said to Ralph, why don't you just play me at every position? So that's what we did," Gleason said.

"She could have probably been a standout at pitcher if she'd really put her mind to it," Aceto said. "She definitely can play anywhere and be one of the best at that position."

But it was at shortstop where Gleason's physical gifts were best suited. Aceto likes to tell the story of the first time he saw Gleason taking grounders in the gym as a freshman.

"We had just graduated our shortstop. I saw Danica take a couple ground balls and I said to my assistant, 'well, we solved that problem,' " Aceto said.

Despite starting the season less than four months after she dislocated her kneecap and suffered an MCL sprain in basketball, Gleason tore through the SMAA's strong pitching. She batted .667 with an .820 on-base percentage, 35 RBI, six doubles, four triples and six home runs as South Portland finished 15-3.

Noble Coach Rick Melanson said Gleason's offensive output "just jumps off the page. Forty hits in 16 (regular-season) games? I don't think I've ever heard of that.

"But the thing that separates her from everyone else is her defense. It's just her quickness. She has a rocket for an arm and then she gets rid of the ball so quick."

Gleason intends to play both softball and baseball at St. Joseph's College while studying physical education.

"I think she could have been D-I. I think she's that good a ballplayer," St. Joseph's Co-Coach Dick Bailey said after Gleason received the Miss Maine Softball award.

Gleason said she almost walked away from the diamond, briefly trying lacrosse as a 10-year-old.

"I hated Little League," she said.

Then she joined a 10-and-under ASA travel team. There she found some like-minded and similarly talented players.

Pretty soon she was honing the training she'd received from her father, John Gleason, a member of the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame.

"I've never really taken many hitting lessons. My dad was always the one who gave me hitting lessons and stuff like that," Gleason said.

Her thirst for trying new athletic challenges continued through high school. She ran cross country one year, helped start a volleyball program and, as a senior, played field hockey.

"How often do you see a kid who goes from never having played field hockey to starting on a field hockey team?" Aceto wondered. "She's just a natural athlete."

Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or at:


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