Lars Jonassen’s Erskine Academy baseball team had a Winkin Award finalist in pitcher Nate Howard. It had a pitcher Jonassen described as a co-ace in Noah Bonsant. It had a formidable presence at the plate in Cody Taylor, one of the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference’s best hitters.

So considering that backdrop of talent, it could be a bit startling to hear the words that Jonassen would say when he’d look over and point to second baseman Dylan Presby.

“There’s no question,” Jonassen said. “Overall, he’s our best player.”

Presby did everything for the Class B North finalists, and he did it well. The senior batted .490 for the whole season, went 4-2 with two saves on the mound and played nearly flawless defense at second base. For his performance in leading the senior-laden team, Presby is the Kennebec Journal Baseball Player of the Year. Howard, Monmouth’s Hunter Richardson, Hall-Dale’s Akira Warren and Richmond’s Zach Small were also considered.

“That’s what I was looking to do this year. I wasn’t trying to just be a hitter, just be a fielder. Because last year, I just saw myself being a decent fielder. My hitting didn’t really come around,” said Presby, who will play next year at Newbury College in Massachusetts. “I thought ‘Hey, I need to step it up this year and work on every aspect of the game.’ … I just felt ‘Hey, this is the year to get it done, senior year with all the boys.’ I got it done.”

“Dylan loves the game, and would play it for 24 hours if he could,” Jonassen said following the team’s regular-season finale against Gardiner. “He’ll go home tonight and practice. He practices all the time.”

Presby’s impact, however, can be a quiet one. While the hard-throwing Howard and Bonsant, rifle-armed catcher Nick Turcotte or heavy-hitting Taylor can get the attention, Presby was often content to cede the spotlight, simply doing whatever the Eagles needed to win.

“He’s sort of an unsung hero,” Jonassen said. “He’s never gotten any recognition, and I don’t think he cares. That’s the best part.”

For an Eagles team that came in expecting to go deep into the postseason, Presby let his play do much of the talking. Hitting out of the No. 2 hole, the senior seemed to hit the ball hard whenever he made contact, showering the outfield with line drives or belting blasts into the gaps.

“He just crunches the ball,” Jonassen said.

Determined to have a season to remember in his final year, Presby worked on his game during the summer, playing for the Maine Lightning in the Elite Baseball League and improving himself against a higher tier of competition.

“That really helped me get my swing down, get my mechanics ready for my senior year, and I felt like that really helped me out to start the season,” he said.

It didn’t take long for Presby to begin reaping the benefits.

“Right from preseason, in the first preseason game I had a home run in Hall-Dale,” he said. “Right from the get-go, I started (with) multi-hit games. I was like ‘Phew, this is the year.’ “

The big hits came one after another for Presby, and in big moments. He went 3-for-4 with a double, triple and three runs while filling in at center field in a key victory over Waterville, and he helped drive Erskine to the regional championship with a bases-loaded triple in a 7-6 victory at Hermon.

All the while, Jonassen spoke often with his second baseman to help keep him focused on the task at hand.

“Coach J was great for that,” Presby said. “He was always reminding me to keep level-headed. I think that’s one of the reasons why I kept playing the way I did. … ‘Hey Dylan, just stay focused every game. We need you every game.’ “

Jonassen didn’t have to stay on Presby much from a leadership perspective, however. When Presby’s play wasn’t doing the talking, he was, whether it be with advice for a younger player or just a joke to help keep the team loose.

“We joke about Dylan, that we think we should have a Dylan Presby bobblehead night because he’ll say the funniest things, and it lightens everybody up,” Jonassen said. “But once he steps to home plate, he’s one of the best players in the state.”

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM

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