Isaac Nelson led the Kernels with a .432 batting average last season and will be counted on to lead Cokato this season.
Kernels Seek Success in North Star League
Updated June 2019
The Cokato Kernels, who play their home games at Veterans Memorial Park at Brooks Lake in Cokato, are looking to make a name for themselves in the North Star League in their fifth season of play. Their nickname, the Kernels, references the community’s strong ties to corn agriculture.
Team: Cokato Kernels
Manager: Nick Corbin, fifth year
League: North Star League – Maple Lake, Hutchinson, Buffalo, Loretto, Delano, Dassel-Cokato, Howard Lake, Maple Plain, Cokato, Litchfield, Waverly.
State Tournaments: None.
Hall of Famers: None.
2018 finish: In the 2018 NSL playoffs, the Kernels needed two wins in the “pigtail” bracket to make the final, 8-team tournament. The Kernels won the first game over Litchfield, 4-0, but lost a 5-4 heartbreaker to Maple Plain on a walk-off, infield error.
The team finished 7-13 in the regular season in the NSL.
Isaac Nelson led the team in hitting, with a .432 average. He had 35 hits in 81 at-bats, with nine doubles, one home run, and a team-high 17 RBI.
Steve Schmitt led the Kernels with four wins, while Dalton Asplin led Cokato with an ERA of 2.85 and a team-high 36 strikeouts. Asplin will not be returning this season.
Teams to beat: [From NorthStarLeague.org] For 2019, the North Star League managers are predicting the standings will look a lot like the 2018 standings.
Maple Lake and Hutchinson are picked by most to compete for the championship. Delano is expected to be healthier and is picked third.
Buffalo and Loretto are the selections for fourth and fifth, with D-C slotted for the sixth slot. Howard Lake, which needed to win a tiebreaker to avoid being in the bottom four, is predicted for seventh place, and Maple Plain, which lost that tiebreaker, is picked for eighth.
The next three teams are picked to also make the top seven and receive a bye into the regionals. That leaves the three teams who finished as the bottom three last year, and the managers are predicting the same finish with Cokato ninth, Litchfield 10th and Montrose/Waverly to be 11th.
Key returning players: Key veterans returning on the offensive side include Tom Halonen, Billy Aho, Isaac Nelson, Ethan Niemela, Luke Morris, and Luke Nelson. The pitching staff includes Steve Schmitt, Eric Pokornowski, Tanner Terning, and Vinne Pokornowski.
Being a young team full of talent and speed, but without the superstar players of other teams in the league, the entire team will have to step up and contribute. A complete team effort is needed for the Kernels to win – throwing strikes, playing good defense, and wreaking havoc on the bases.
Player Losses from 2018: Dalton Asplin, Zach Martin, Seth Looft, Jake Smith, Jason Lyrek, Larry Niemela, Tyler Halonen. Asplin will be a big loss for the Kernels, as he led the team in ERA and was second on the team in innings pitched and strikeouts.
Key 2019 acquisitions: The Kernels will have one key player who is returning from a couple-year absence in 3B/P Eric Pokornowski, who, when he is on, has an ace-like repertoire.
Cokato Kernels 2019 Roster
- Dalton Asplin OF, P
- Adam Barnaal INF
- Chad Koivisto INF
- Logan Niemela P, OF
- Luke Nelson 2B, P
- Vinne Pokornowski OF/P
- Steve Schmitt P
- Garret Lueders C
- Tom Halonen INF, P
- Billy Aho LF
- Jacob Schmitz P/C
- Tanner Terning P
- Jake Hendrickson INF
- Ethan Niemela INF
- Isaac Nelson C
- Luke Morris OF
- Eric Pokornowski 3B/P
- Manager: Nick Corbin