MITCHELL, S.D. (KELO) — The KELOLAND.com Game of the Week returns on Monday, April 5 as Mitchell hosts Yankton in a baseball double header.
The Kernels enter the 2021 season as the defending South Dakota High School Baseball Class ‘A’ state runner-ups.
Mitchell fell to O’Gorman back on May 25, 2019 in the class ‘A’ state championship.
Fast forward to 2021 and the Kernels are preparing for a new season.
“After not having a spring season last year and getting into the Legion season last year, we lost a lot of guys as far as last summer to this year,” Mitchell head coach Luke Norden said. “We’ve got a lot of guys to replace and a lot of innings on the mound from last summer. I think we have over 200 innings that won’t be with us this year.”
Mitchell will have a lot of new faces, but they do have a few returning players.
“We have a couple guys that were position guys that are back for us. Jonah Schmidt played a lot of second base for us and short stop last year and he’ll be back,” Norden said. “Joe VanOverschelde was one of our catchers last year and he’s back. Him and Jonah have been with us since they were freshman. Nick Lord, is a senior outfielder. Those three are the only guys that were with us when we played our last game two years ago against O’Gorman in the championship game.”
The Kernels are the lone team in class ‘A’ to have not played a game this season. Monday’s double header will be Mitchell’s season opener.
“I look at everybody else and it seems like we’re behind the eight ball here as far as some teams have a couple games in and some teams have four or five games in,” Norden said. “We’ve always done our opener two weeks after the state basketball tournament. I’m generally glad we haven’t played yet, just because we need the practice.”
The Yankton Bucks enter Monday’s contest with an 0-2 record as they try to sort out their young team.
“This year’s Yankton team is going to have a lot of new faces on it. We have a lot of sophomores that’ll end of playing a lot of varsity minutes,” Yankton head coach Drew Lawrence said. “We have just a couple of guys from last years team, but overall, we’re fairly young. Of the guys that do play and are contributing, they do have a lot of talent, but we are for sure young and learning a lot as we go.”
Monday’s double header will feature an early double header for both teams, however it could be a challenge for both teams.
“I don’t know much about their returning players, only because last year was a weird year. We played them, but we played them early and no one was able to focus on players too much,” Lawrence said. “Every year, Mitchell is coached very well. Luke Norden has been there for years and he has set up a great system.”
“Last year, they were very young and obviously the year before they were very talented and senior heavy. They lost a lot of guys two years ago,” Norden said. “When you have a young team, I think you want to practice as much as possible, and with the circumstances, I think they probably didn’t get to practice as much as they wanted.”
The Game of the Week will feature a double header between the Kernels and Bucks. First pitch is set for 1:00 p.m. on Monday.
You can watch the game at the link above and play-by-play will be provided by KELOLAND.com’s Grant Sweeter.