AUGUSTA — South Portland shortstop Danica Gleason hit .667 during 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 when she was announced Thursday evening as the winner of the Miss Maine Softball Award. The award, given annually to the top senior player in the state, was presented to Gleason 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.

Bucksport’s Cassidy Adams, South Portland’s Sam Adams, Gardiner’s Taylor Banister, and Skowhegan’s Shelby Obert were the other finalists. Gleason faced Sam Adams in Western A play this season.

“She was really my toughest challenge all year,” Gleason said.

Gleason will attend St. Joseph’s College this fall. Dick Bailey is a co-head coach at St. Joe’s with Jamie Smyth, Bailey 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 softball coaching stints at St. Joe’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 heckuva 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,” Bailey said. “I said, you oughta look at St. Joe’s. Fortunately for us, they did, and more fortunately, this is where she’s going.”

Gleason will play both softball and basketball at St. Joe’s, and both she and Bailey say that’s a big part of the 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.
On the softball field, St. Joe’s finished 34-13 last season, and graduated only four players from that team. Even given that, Bailey expects Gleason to be an immediate contributor.

“We got a helluva 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 contest 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 out 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 bottom of the fifth inning.

After playing third base all spring, Obert played that position for the East, then caught two innings for the West. Meanwhile, Kennebunk’s Carinn Burns pitched the ninth inning for both the East and the West, and Gleason switched jerseys with McAuley’s Molly Mack.

The West easily won the A/B game, 13-1. Scarborough’s Erin Giles pitched two hitless innings and clubbed a three-run homer over the left field fence to give the West a 3-0 lead in the top of the third inning. Sanford’s Sam Adams and Oak Hill’s Kortni Michaud also pitched two hitless innings apiece, and Sanford’s Kellie Tovey 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 Bangor’s Carly Cosgrove an infield single. The East finally got its first hit in the bottom of the seventh when Brewer’s Lindsay Houp 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. Dirigo’s Tasha DeRoche fouled off several pitches from Bucksport’s Cassidy Adams before delivering an RBI groundout to shortstop. Adams, who led Bucksport to the last two Class C state titles, struck out nine and allowed two runs in five innings of work.

DeRoche and Carrabec’s Ashlee Knight 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 for the out.

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243
[email protected]

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