Danica Gleason, the 2013 Miss Maine Softball winner, has purchased Maine Hits, a baseball and softball training facility in Scarborough. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Danica Gleason was known for her ability to play anywhere on a softball diamond.

Now, the former standout at South Portland High, St. Joseph’s College and Tennessee State has added a new position – owner.

Gleason, 24, has purchased Maine Hits, the indoor softball and baseball training facility in Scarborough, from Bob Williamson, who founded the company in 2008.

“Softball has been my passion since I can remember,” Gleason said. “I want to bring that passion and energy to the state.”

Maine Hits’ 10,000-square foot facility features four batting cages and a cross-fit gym. Gleason said the facility will continue to be the home base for the Lady Mavericks travel softball program. She intends to restart a similar travel baseball program.

“I see Maine Hits being the place that every top softball and baseball player would go to train and work out and having teams competing at a high, top level – national level – as far as travel ball goes,” Gleason said.

Gleason said she bought the company for $20,000 and assumed the lease.

“I was hoping to transition it to someone who wanted to continue with the business, to grow the business, and had a lot of passion,” said Williamson, who has known Gleason since she was competing against his daughter, Alyssa, in youth leagues.

Gleason’s love of the game was apparent as a senior at South Portland in 2013. Coming off a knee injury in basketball, Gleason wore a brace and hit .667 with power, continued to excel as a slick-fielding shortstop and played every other position. She was named Miss Maine Softball and the Maine Sunday Telegram Player of the Year.

In her one year at St. Joseph’s, Gleason was a key member of basketball and softball teams that won conference titles and reached the NCAA tournament. In softball, she hit .445 and was named the GNAC Rookie of the Year.

After transferring to Tennessee State, Gleason primarily played shortstop and catcher as a three-year starter but again appeared at every position and hit .279 during her career.

Gleason believes her own experiences, her age and her gender can help young softball players.

“Part of my issue with travel ball, especially here in New England, is it’s really just a bunch of dads or old baseball guys. They’re in it for the right reasons, but I want to get (girls) in the right direction,” Gleason said. “I was obviously a decent high school player and hitter, but especially when I got to college in the South, it was a whole new animal.”

A 2017 graduate of Tennessee State, Gleason is also a college assistant coach, working for the University of New England in 2018 before moving to Bates College.

“I think it’s really important to underscore how valuable it is to have a young, female leader in our community, obviously in the athletic realm, but also as a business owner,” said Bates Coach McKell Barnes, a Brunswick High grad who played softball and soccer at UMaine-Farmington. “For Danica to undertake this endeavor is going to be an extremely positive experience for her, but also what that can show young women, young women athletes and young women entrepreneurs.”

Gleason has expanded Maine Hits’ weekday hours to 3 to 9 p.m. and has kept the weekend schedule of 9 a.m. to noon. She is initiating online scheduling to make it easier for customers to book cage rentals. She is also building up the in-house instructors who will offer private and group lessons. Gleason will handle softball hitting instruction. Bates junior Kirsten Pelletier will handle softball pitching instruction, and St. Joseph’s College assistant baseball coach Nic Lops will lead the fledgling baseball program.

Especially on the baseball side, Maine Hits is competing with two well-established travel team training center programs in southern Maine: The Maine Lightning out of Portland’s Edge Academy, and the Southern Maine River Rats, based at Saco’s Hitters Count.

Gleason said she intends to start the baseball travel program with younger players “and be able to grow with that and mostly getting young kids to stay and play with us.”

The Lady Mavericks softball program has seven teams ranging in age from 10U to 18U. Gleason is coaching one of the 14U teams.

“One thing that separates Danica and will separate Maine Hits is her experience as a female athlete,” Barnes said. “She’s going to be able to answer those questions the young players have.”

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