Peter Kemble pitched in the shadows of older teammates during his early years with the Bangor Coffee News American Legion baseball program.
But with 2014 Zone 1 co-player of the year Justin Courtney now a starter for the University of Maine pitching staff and 2015 Zone 1 player of the year Trevor DeLaite playing summer baseball in New Hampshire en route to UMaine this fall, this season marked Kemble’s chance to step into the Legion limelight.
The incoming senior from Bangor High School — also a University of Maine verbal commitment — rose to that starring role in a major way while leading Coffee News to its first Zone 1 tournament championship since 2012. On Monday night, Kemble was named the zone’s 2016 player of the year.
The righthander, whose father Jay Kemble pitched for UMaine’s 1986 College World Series team, anchored the Coffee News pitching staff this summer with a 6-0 record, 1.13 earned run average and 53 strikeouts for the Comrades, who will seek a third consecutive American Legion state tournament championship beginning Wednesday in Augusta.
He also batted .451 with 27 stolen bases and 27 runs scored from the No. 2 spot in the batting order for Coffee News coach Dave Morris, who was named Zone 1 coach of the year after guiding the Comrades to an 18-5 record and their 14th trip to the state tournament in the last 15 years.
The other major Zone 1 postseason award went to pitcher of the year Conor Maguire of the Hancock County-based Acadians. Maguire, a former Ellsworth High School standout who played as a freshman at Husson University in Bangor this spring, helped the Acadians land a Zone 1 playoff berth with a 4-2 record and 1.18 ERA with 40 strikeouts.
Kemble was one of five Coffee News players selected to the All-Zone 1 first team. He was joined by pitcher Jesse Colford (3-1, 1 save, 1.89 ERA), catcher Derek Fournier (.403, 21 RBI) second baseman Sam Huston (.428, 36 hits, 27 RBI, 17 SB) and shortstop Kyle Stevenson (.400 34 hits, 26 runs).
Zone 1 runner-up Post 16 of Skowhegan, which also advanced to the state tournament, had three first-team choices in pitcher Dustin Crawford (4-0, 1.67 ERA), outfielder Chase Malloy (.329, 23 hits, 10 SB) and utility player Cody Laweryson (.342, 26 hits, 17 RBI, 2-1 pitching record, 2.57 ERA).
Post 51 of Oakland, the zone’s regular-season top seed, Brewer and the Acadians also had three first-teamers each.
Pitcher Jake Trask (4-0, 1.19 ERA), outfielder Derek Bowen (.337, 24 hits, 22 RBI, 22 runs) and utility player Dan Pooler (.408, 40 hits, 3-1 pitching record, 2.60 ERA) were Post 51’s honorees, while first baseman Matt Pushard (.459, three home runs, 18 RBI), third baseman Kobe Rogerson (.377, 23 hits), and shortstop Logan Rogerson (.459, 24 hits, 14 SB) represented Brewer.
Joining Maguire on the first team from the Acadians were outfielder Nick Bagley (.341, 28 hits) and designated hitter Jake Keenan (.342, 25 hits).
Second-team selections were pitcher Nick Cowperthwaite, first baseman Andrew Hillier and outfielder Ryan Brookings of Coffee News; pitcher James Lathrop, catcher Trevor Gettig, shortstop Jared Cunningham and designated hitter Connor Garland of Post 51; outfielders Garrett Hamlin and Alex Maxsimic of Brewer; pitcher Nick Guerrette of Hampden-R.H. Foster; second baseman Hank Vinall of the Acadians; third baseman Ethan Stoddard of Motor City; and utility player Brayden Miller of Penquis.