The smell of the fresh cut grass on the field. The pop sound when the ball hits the catcher’s glove or the sound of the bat making firm contact with the ball. Rounding third base as you trot home with the winning run for your team, meeting them at home plate and jubilantly celebrating.

No matter what is one’s favorite part of the game is, chances are it was seen on the high school baseball diamond this season in the Midcoast as eight teams showcased their talents by flashing leather and swinging bats throughout the regular season and, in the case of a few squads, into the postseason.

For more than three decades, The Courier-Gazette and VillageSoup newspapers featured end-of-the-season stories that highlighted the cream of the Midcoast high school athletic crop in Knox and part of Lincoln counties. Those stories included the paper’s “all stars” for that season and sport.

However, with the inclusion of student-athletes from Waldo County high schools to reflect VillageSoup’s more regional weekly print publication, the company now ushers in an era with its seasonal sports notables.

The notable student-athletes represent schools in Knox, Waldo and part of Lincoln counties and, while not termed “all stars,” those highlighted experienced the most consistently strong seasons and distinguished themselves in their sport. Thus, they are worthy of being spotlighted.

VillageSoup will name notables in all high school varsity sports where there are at least two Midcoast teams in that season playing an official varsity schedule. Student-athletes who will be considered for notable distinction can come from Belfast Area High School, Camden Hills Regional High School, Rockland District High School, Medomak Valley High School, Georges Valley High School, Vinalhaven High School, North Haven Community School, Islesboro Central School, Mount View High School and Searsport District High School.

In the past in the spring, VillageSoup named all stars in baseball, softball, track and field and boys tennis and girls tennis. Baseball will be featured in this week’s edition, while softball and boys tennis and girls tennis will appear in future editions of the newspaper. Track and field was featured in a previous week’s edition of the paper.

In naming notables in a sport, VillageSoup is not trying to highlight every potentially deserving student-athlete from a given team, only to highlight the most consistently strong performers during a particular season in a particular sport. Obviously, with any such list of notables being subjective, not all those initially considered ultimately will make the final list of notables.

In addition, there usually is at least one representative from each school in a given sport, but that is not always the case. From that point, the rest of the notables could be a mix of student-athletes from many schools, or weighted heavily on one or two schools. Obviously, the more success a particular team has will, in some respects, dictate the number of potential notables it receives.

In most sports, the nomination process for a sport begins with the VillageSoup sports team polling area coaches to provide a list of what they feel are each respective team’s premier players for that season, not necessarily for a high school career. The notables are based on individual performances, although the strength of a team’s season may impact how many players from a specific team are selected.

In this case for baseball, Belfast’s George Ross, Camden Hills’ Jeff Hart, Searsport’s Dave Pepin, Rockland’s Joe Nelsen, Mount View’s Ty Kerr, Medomak Valley’s Richie Oliver, Georges Valley’s Don Shields and Vinalhaven’s Matt Slivinsky were all polled for their nominations.

A nomination only guarantees each candidate’s consideration, not ultimate notable status. While the input of each coach is weighed heavily with each candidate, the final decisions are made by VillageSoup Sports Director Ken Waltz and Associate Sports Director Mark Haskell.

Again, not all potential notables will ultimately become VillageSoup’s notables. Only those nominated by coaches and ultimately selected by the VillageSoup sports staff.

This year’s VillageSoup baseball notables include Belfast’s Derrick Bernosky, Jack Davis, Matt Steinort and Mike Berry; Camden Hills’ Adam Landwehr, Zach Dufour, Cam Gartley and Kevin Pierce; Georges Valley’s Alec Young, Bryant Matthews, Dylan Maloney, Brandon Knight and Ian Anderson; Medomak Valley’s Taylor Williamson, Steven Genthner, Shane Osier, Isaac Durkee and Dillon Reed; Mount View’s Alec Davis; Rockland’s Luke Morrill, Joe Nelsen and Nick Beal; Searsport’s Josiah Brazier and Evan Kingsbury; and Vinalhaven’s Nathan Hopkins, Steven Osgood and Dana Tolman.

Kingsbury, Brazier, Young, Anderson, Jack Davis, Beal, Williamson, Genthner, Reed, Hopkins, Berry, Gartley, Tolman, Dufour and Pierce are seniors; Alec Davis, Steinort, Bernosky, Matthews, Knight, Durkee, Morrill, Nelsen and Landwehr, juniors; and Maloney and Osgood, both sophomores. Osier is the lone freshman.

Belfast, competing in Class B’s Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference, finished with a record of 8-8 and placed 11th in Eastern Class B. The Lions fell short of the 10-team field, failing to make the playoffs.

Camden Hills, competing in KVAC’s Class B division, finished with a record of 12-4, earning it the fifth seed in the Eastern Class B playoffs. The Windjammers made the trip to Aroostook County and returned with a 7-2 win over No. 4 Presque Isle before falling to top-seeded and eventual state champion Waterville 2-0 in the semifinals. The ‘Jammers also were runners-up in the KVAC Class B championship game, awarded to the Purple Panthers after the game was canceled due to inclement weather.

Georges Valley, competing in the southern division of the Mountain Valley Conference, finished with a record of 7-7, placing 13th in Western Class C. The Buccaneers fell short of the 10-team field qualifying for the playoffs.

Medomak Valley, competing in KVAC’s Class B division, finished with a record of 8-8 and placed 12th in Eastern Class B. The Panthers fell short of the 10-team field, failing to qualify for postseason play.

Mount View, competing in KVAC’s Class B division, finished with a record of 2-14 and placed 18th in Eastern Class B. The Mustangs did not qualify for postseason play.

Rockland, competing in KVAC’s Class B division, finished with a record of 6-10 and placed 16th in Eastern Class B. The Tigers failed to qualify for postseason play.

Searsport, competing in the Penobscot Valley Conference, finished with a record of 7-8-1, earning it the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Class C playoffs. The Vikings traveled to Calais and were upended 2-0 by the Blue Devils in the quarterfinal round of the postseason.

Vinalhaven, competing in Class D’s East/West Conference, finished with a record of 3-9, finishing seventh overall in Western Class D. The Vikings did not qualify for postseason play.

The following are VillageSoup’s high school baseball notables, listed in alphabetical order.

Anderson, a senior who played third base this season for Georges Valley and was also the team’s co-captain, earned the team coach’s award and was second team all-conference playing the hot corner. Anderson made only five errors all season at third base while batting .366 on the season. He rapped 15 hits, knocked in nine runs and stole eight bases. Shields added that Anderson had his best varsity season to date both in the field and at the plate.

Beal, a senior who played outfield this season for Rockland, played well this season as an outfielder and designated hitter for the Tigers. Beal batted 389 this year while coming up with 14 hits (two doubles), three RBIs and two runs in 36 at bats.

Bernosky, a senior who both pitched and played infield this season for Belfast, was the team’s most valuable players this season according to coach Ross. Bernosky was tied for the team lead in hits and batted .370, while also sporting a 3-3 record on the mound for the Lions. The southpaw had a 2.03 ERA this season, walked just six batters and struck out 35.

Berry, a senior who pitched and played outfield this season for Belfast, was one of the top pitchers in the Midcoast which helped earn him a first team all-conference selection this year. Berry was 4-2 on the hill this season, sporting a 2.03 ERA, walked 11 batters and fanned 44 through 41 innings. Berry also batted .340 at the plate this season for the Lions. Berry was also an all-academic selection this season.

Brazier, a senior who played third base this season for Searsport, earned a second team all-conference selection this season for his stellar play at the hot corner. Brazier also batted .389 this year and had one home run for the Vikings.

Alec Davis, a junior who played both third base and outfield this season for Mount View, was the top offensive player for the Mustangs this season. This season, Davis hit .320 and rapped 11 hits, including four doubles. Coach Kerr added that Davis “was a clutch hitter with a great attitude.”

Jack Davis, a senior who played shortstop this season for Belfast, was a first team all-conference selection this season for the Lions and their top offensive player. Davis, who batted .420 on the year, led the team in RBIs, double, triples, home runs and stolen bases and was “a fine defensive player” at shortstop according to coach Ross.

Dufour, a senior who both pitched and played infield this season for Camden Hills, was the ace of the pitching staff and wielded one of the team’s biggest bats as he was selected first team all-conference. Dufour batted .396 this season, rapping 19 hits (two home rums, two doubles), driving in 19 runs and scoring 12 more. He also had a .563 slugging percentage and an on-base percentage of .411.

The senior also tossed over 35 innings on the mound in nine starts, while throwing three complete games. Dufour went 6-2, sported a 4.36 earned run average, gave up 35 hits, walked 17 batters and struck out 28 over the course of the season. He also went the distance in the Windjammers’ quarterfinal game over Presque Isle, allowing five hits and fanning six in a 7-2 win.

Durkee, a junior who played shortstop and outfield this season for Medomak Valley, was the leadoff batter for coach Oliver and proved to be one of the team’s more indispensable players with his versatility. Durkee batted .377, led the team with 10 stolen bases, finished tied for the team lead in hits with 20 (home run, two triples, five doubles), second on the team in runs with 16 and also had 11 RBIs. Coach Oliver added that Durkee was great at working the count, had great discipline and ran the bases very well for the Panthers.

Gartley, a senior who both pitched and played infield this season for Camden Hills, batted third for much of the season and was an integral part of the team’s success. Gartley batted .339 this season, had 19 hits (double, triple), knocked in 12 runs and scored 16 more. On the mound, Gartley wielded a 4.09 ERA, allowed 29 hits and walked 12, while fanning 24 batters. He also tossed two complete games. Coach Hart added that Gartley “played outstanding in the field during the playoffs, as well as providing us a clutch bat in the number three spot in our lineup.”

Genthner, a senior who played catcher this season for Medomak Valley, did not let a broken hand slow his productivity this season for the Panthers both behind the plate and at the dish. Genthner broke his hand midseason, missed three games and came back to the team without missing a beat, finishing his senior year with a .444 batting average. He was tied for the team lead in hits with 20 (two home runs, three triples, three doubles), tied for the team led in runs scored with 17 and also knocked in 12 runs. Genthner also earned a second team all-conference selection.

Hopkins, a senior who pitched and played both shortstop and third base this season for Vinalhaven, had another strong campaign on the diamond and did most of his talking with his bat. Hopkins batted .589 this season for the Vikings, belting five home runs, knocking in 20 RBIs and also scored 12 runs.

Kingsbury, a senior who played shortstop, outfield and pitcher this season for Searsport, was the team’s top all-around player both on the field and at the plate, earning him a second team all-conference selection. Kingsbury sported a .480 batting average and had 16 RBIs along with a slew of hits, including one home run and seven doubles. He also pitched well for the Vikings in a 2-0 loss to Calais in the Eastern Class C quarterfinals.

Knight, a junior who played outfield, first base and pitched for Georges Valley, was an all-conference honorable mention this season for the Buccaneers and played strong both in the field and at the plate. Knight had just one error in 91 chances (.989 fielding percentage) at first base this season, while hitting .295 at the plate including 13 hits (six doubles, home run), 12 RBIs and a .500 slugging percentage.

Landwehr, a junior who pitched and played infield this season for Camden Hills, earned a second team all-conference selection due to his stellar play on the diamond this season. Landwehr batted .375 on the season while rapping 18 hits (two home runs, six doubles), had 10 RBIs and scored 12 runs. On the hill in the regular season, Landwehr sported a 3.21 earned run average, allowed 23 hits and 11 walks, while striking out 27 over 24 innings.

The junior also pitched a terrific game in the Eastern Class B semifinal against eventual state champion Waterville, allowing six hits and two walks, while striking out three. Coach Hart added that Landwehr pitched great in the game and really gave them a chance to pull the upset.

Maloney, a sophomore who played second base, outfield and pitched this season for Georges Valley, was a second team all-conference selection this season and did a terrific job along with Matthews to help solidify the middle infield for the Buccaneers. At the plate, Maloney scored a team-high 19 runs and also had a team high on-base percentage of .615. He also hit .474 and rapped 18 hits (triple, four doubles), drew 14 walks and swiped 10 bases for the Bucs.

Matthews, a junior who pitched and played shortstop this season for Georges Valley, had a terrific season both in the field and at the plate for coach Shields, earning him a first team all-conference selection. While batting .413 with 13 runs and 13 RBIs, Matthews also led the team in hits (19) and stolen bases (11) to go along with a .442 on-base percentage. Shields added that Matthews came on strong in the second half of the season on the mound and “played solid shortstop for us all season long.”

Morrill, a junior who played pitcher and shortstop this season for Rockland, once again had a sensational year and proved to be the Midcoast’s top player while also picking up a first team all-conference selection. At the plate, Morrill boasted a .531 batting average and compiled a team-high 26 hits, which included six home runs, three triple and eight doubles. He also swiped 11 bases, had 14 RBIs and scored 22 runs in 49 at-bats.

On the hill, Morrill had a 3-0 record with a 1.98 ERA through 21 2/3 innings. He gave up only 10 hits all season and six earned runs, while walking 14 and fanning 34.

Nelsen, a junior who played catcher this season for Rockland, was the backbone of the team and did a terrific job of controlling games from behind the plate for the Tigers. Nelsen, who was second on the team in all major offensive categories, batted .314 at the dish and rapped 16 hits (triple, seven doubles), 13 RBIs and scored 12 runs in 51 at bats. He also pitched in two games this season, including a spot-start against Waterville, who lost one game all season and won the Class B state crown.

Osgood, a sophomore who played both shortstop and catcher this season for Vinalhaven, was the team’s leadoff hitter and did a terrific job at putting his team in position to score runs. Osgood batted .400 this season and rapped 15 hits, while scoring 11 runs and knocking in three.

Osier, a freshman who played outfield this season for Medomak Valley, broke onto the team in a big way this year and looks to be a fixture on the Panther baseball team for years to come. Osier batted .333 this season in 15 games, connecting on 14 hits (triple, three doubles), 14 RBIs and 13 runs.

Pierce, a senior who pitched and played infield this season for Camden Hills, was one of the team’s more versatile players and one of the team’s most consistent hitters. Pierce, who could be seen playing first, second or third base on any given day, batted .405 this season while rapping 15 hits (two doubles), nine RBIs and eight runs scored. Pierce was also an all-academic selection this season.

Reed, a senior who played first base this season for Medomak Valley, wielded a big bat for the Panthers this season and according to coach Oliver, “played a solid first base for us all season.” Reed batted .320 through 16 games, rapping 16 hits (three doubles) and 16 RBIs.

Steinort, a junior who played catcher this season for Belfast, was one of the top catchers in the league this season according to coach Ross and had “many key hits” for the Lions throughout the course of the season. Steinort batted .340 this season for Belfast.

Tolman, a senior who pitched and played both outfield and first base for Vinalhaven this season, was one of the Vikings’ most versatile players in the field and was no slouch at the plate either. Tolman amassed a .414 batting average, had 12 hits (two home runs) and scored 10 runs while knocking in seven RBIs.

Williamson, a senior who pitched and played third base this season for Medomak Valley, came back strong this season after missing the better part of last year after shoulder surgery to earn a first team all-conference selection. Williamson played in all 16 games and batted .422 and led the teams in both home runs (5) and RBIs (18). He also scored 14 runs and made only two errors this year, playing the hot corner for the Panthers. Williamson also had a terrific year on the bump, earning a 3-3 record as a pitcher. He was also an all-academic selection this season.

Young, a senior who played outfield, first base and pitched this season for Georges Valley, was a co-captain on this year’s squad and garnered a first-team all-conference selection this season. Young batted .378 at the plate and had a .511 on-base percentage, while knocking in 13 runs and scoring 10 more. He was also a perfect 9-of-9 in stolen base attempts. On the hill, the southpaw went 3-2 with a 4.96 earned run average, tossing a team-high 24 innings in six starts.

Coach Shields added that Young is a “team first” player who moved to the outfield this season for the betterment of the team, and will go down as the last player in GVHS history to start every regular season and playoff game at the varsity level all four years of high school.

Village NetMedia Associate Sports Director Mark Haskell can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail at mhaskell@villagesoup.com.