Billy Aho approached the plate against Loretto in the Region 12C playoffs, as Isaac Nelson and Luke Morris cheered him on. Cokato defeated the Larks 11-1 to advance to their first state tournament.
Kernels looking to bounce back from disappointing 2020 season
Updated August 2021
In their seventh season of existence, the Cokato Kernels were unable to repeat their state tournament appearance they pulled of in 2019. A late start in the season due to COVID-19 proved to be a tough obstacle for the Kernels to overcome in 2020.
The Kernels finished the regular season with a 1-9 record in a shortened North Star League season. Cokato was the No. 11 seed heading into the postseason, where they loss to crosstown rival Dassel-Cokato 6-1 to put an end to their season.
Cokato’s nickname, the Kernels, references the community’s strong ties to corn agriculture. They play their home games at Veterans Memorial Park, at Brooks Lake, in Cokato. The Kernels are looking to finish off their new grandstand in the summer of 2021 to add to their ballpark atmosphere.
Team: Cokato Kernels
Manager: Nick Corbin, sixth year
League: North Star League – Maple Lake, Hutchinson, Buffalo, Loretto, Delano, Dassel-Cokato, Howard Lake, Maple Plain, Cokato, Litchfield, Waverly.
State Tournament: 2019.
Hall of Famers: None.
2020 finish: The Kernels had a rough go of things in 2020 coming off their first state tournament appearance in program history. Cokato could never find their rhythm as they had just one win in NSL play.
With a bunch of guys back this season, Cokato will be looking to show that last season was a fluke and that the Kernels are indeed for real.
Key returning players: The Kernels look to return most of their offensive roster from last season, including starters:
• Jake Smith, IF
• Ethan Niemela, IF
• Tommy Halonen, IF
• I. Nelson, C/OF
• Billy Aho, OF
• Luke Morris, OF
• Sanders Asplin, OF
• Luke Nelson, IF
• Austin Kantola, C
The pitching rotation will include the top two starters from last season, Steve Schmitt and Vinne Pokornowski. Also returning are veterans Tanner Terning and Jake Hendrickson.
Key 2020 acquisitions: The Kernels added some depth this season with the addition of Alan Pietala. An infielder, Pietala will give the Kernels a spark both in the field and at the plate.