For Sikeston Bulldog baseball teams as of late, the two sensory feelings go hand-in-hand with the sight of a trophy case.
In the 11 years that head coach Kevin Self has been the skipper of the Bulldogs, Sikeston has racked up the following accomplishments: district champions in five of the last seven years, leaving the school 27 overall, which is second in Missouri state history; six district titles in 11 seasons; seven SEMO Conference championships in the last 10 years; seven 20 win seasons in the last eight years; three straight SEMO Conference tournament and regular season conference titles (2002-04); an appearance in the championship game of the SEMO Conference tournament every year since the inaugural season in 2001; 2001 - second place finish in Class 3 state tournament, 2002 - fourth place finish, and 2004 - third place finish.
The 2001 season provided the highest finish for a Sikeston team since the 1951 season when the Bulldogs also finished as the runner-up.
"Sikeston has always been a baseball community," said Self. "We've always done well."
"It's going to be a fun year," Self said of the 2008 campaign. "I think the kids are accepting of what their roles are in the program. We can be pretty good, and we can win another conference and another district. There's no doubt in my mind."
Sikeston welcomes back seniors Cody Anderson, Seth Baker, Scott Droddy, Chase Ferrell, Stan Ivie, Nick Lambert, Garrett Limbaugh, Josh Pierce and Matt Ritch.
"Cody, Scott and Seth are probably the three leaders," said Self. "Anderson, Droddy, Ferrell and Lambert have been on varsity since they were sophomores."
Rounding out the 14 varsity members are juniors Stephen Beydler, Blair Bohannon, Charlie Bohannon, Vince Howard and Logan Kirkpatrick.
Heading to the mound for the Bulldogs will be Anderson, Baker, Droddy, Lambert, Limbaugh and Ritch.
"The nine seniors will get the main playing time," said Self. "Howard will be in the mix, and sometimes Charlie will be in the outfield, with Blair in the infield, maybe at second, or probably third."
Self said that this year's club has a lot of potential to grab another SEMO Conference title, as well a another district title.
"I think that we'll be able to put it in play and score a few runs," he said. "If we get good pitching to go with that--I think our pitching will determine how well we'll be. If our pitching and our outfield come together we could be really well."
Baker, Pierce and Ritch will hold down the outfield for most of the innings, with Beydler, Charlie Bohannon and Howard seeing a few fly-balls throughout the season.
Around the horn, the infield will consist mainly of Anderson, Droddy, Limbaugh, Ivie, Lambert and Ferrell.
Droddy and Lambert are both coming off of solid 2007 seasons that saw both players receiving All-Conference first team honors.
Droddy led the team in average, batting around .450 for the season, totaling 37 hits, 30 runs scored, eight doubles, two triples and 12 RBI.
Lambert racked up 36 RBI on six doubles, a triple and a homerun.
"Lambert is probably the most clutch hitter we have," said Self of his senior. "Him and Baker have to be the two guys that drive in runs. If they can drive in 40 plus runs we can have a pretty good year."
Baker also received post-season honors in 2007 with All-Conference honorable mention.
As for the senior-loaded club, Self said that he thinks the season's outlook is bright.
"I'm going to push them and we'll see what turns out," he said. "We're going to have some fun. Last year was a pretty good year."
Self and the Bulldogs will try to continue their winning tradition, as they take to the field on March 18 when they travel to take on Notre Dame at 4 p.m.