Kernels Baseball

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 Seek Success in North Star League

Updated June 2020

In their sixth season of existence, the Cokato Kernels broke through to advance to their first-ever Class C state tournament in 2019.

The Kernels finished 3-2 in the Region 12 C tournament, finishing second (the top four teams advance to the state tournament).

Cokato won their first-ever state tournament game, 3-0 over Sleepy Eye, but fell in the second round of the tournament to Bemidji by a score of 4-1.

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.

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.

2019 finish: After their best regular season to date, the Kernels entered the Region 12C tournament as the #5 seed, with the top four teams from the region advancing to the state tournament.

Cokato defeated Buffalo 8-2 in the first game of the tournament, behind a complete-game gem from Steve Schmitt. They followed it up with an 11-1 victory over Loretto in the semifinals, securing their first-ever state tournament appearance.

Vinne Pokornowski went the distance for the Kernels against the Larks, with Tommy Halonen and Isaac Nelson each driving in three runs.

In their first game of their first state tournament, the Kernels scored a 3-0 victory over Sleepy Eye behind another gem from Schmitt, who went 8 1/3 innings.

In the second round, Cokato fell victim to bad luck, as Bemidji scored four runs in the first inning, including three on an unfortunate miscue, and held on for a 4-1 win.

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.

Player losses from 2019: The biggest loss from 2019 will be veteran pitcher Eric Pokornowski. The crafty righthander could always be counted on to throw strikes, and had several big wins on the mound for the Kernels.

Key 2020 acquisitions: The Kernels will have several youngsters making their debut this season, including:

• Kaden Schmidt

• Riley Pennala

• David Raisanen

• Jaeger Ohm

• Grayson Londerville

Cokato Kernels 2020 Roster

Player Pos.

1 Kaden Schmidt INF

2 Sanders Asplin OF

3 Adam Barnaal INF

4 Luke Nelson INF

5 Chad Koivisto INF

7 Logan Niemela P

8 Vinne Pokornowski P

9 Steve Schmitt P

11 Tom Halonen INF

12 Austin Kantola C

13 Billy Aho OF

14 Jacob Schmitz C/UTIL

15 Riley Pennala INF

17 Jake Hendrickson P/INF

Player Pos.

18 Tanner Terning P

19 Ethan Niemela INF

23 Jake Smith INF

24 Nick Corbin MGR

25 David Raisanen P/INF

25 Garret Lueders C

34 Caleb Keith OF

42 Jackson Martin INF

52 Luke Morris OF

56 Jaeger Ohm UTIL

66 Grayson Londerville INF/P

84 Isaac Nelson C/OF

Manager: Nick Corbin