WWBA Kernels Foundation National Championship

Tournaments : : Story
Perfect Game Staff        
Published: Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Sixteen teams from eight upper Midwest states will gather in Cedar Rapids this weekend for the WWBA Kernels Foundation National Championship. The games will be held at four area ballparks, including Veterans Memorial Stadium, home of the Midwest League Cedar Rapids Kernels, beginning at 9:00 am Saturday and running through the championship game at 1:00 pm on Monday.

The teams are broken up into four pools with each team will be guaranteed four games, with the eventual champion and runner up taking the field six times. There will also be a Home Run Derby Sunday afternoon at 3:00.

For a localized Midwest tournament, the Kernels Foundation Championship has an impressive array of talent. Four players from the prestigious AFLAC All-American team will be in attendance, along with a number of other top national prospects in the 2004 and 2005 graduating classes.

Some of the top players, with their high schools and Kernels Championship teams, include:

SS Eric Campbell (Gibson Southern HS, IN/Indiana Yankees): Campbell, an AFLAC All-American, is coming off a summer where he was named Co-MVP of the WWBA World Senior Championship in Marietta, GA and won the home run hitting contest at the AFLAC All-Star game. He's one of the top hitters in the country.

RHP Will Jostock (Lapeer West HS, MI/Wisconsin Blazers): The 6-6 Jostock was one of 13 pitchers from around the country to appear in the AFLAC All-Star Game. He's a power pitcher who struck out 175 hitters in high school competition last spring.

1B Tyler Beranek (Waukesha South HS, WI/Wisconsin Blazers): Beranek finished third in the AFLAC Home Run Contest last week in Ft. Myers, Florida. He's one of the strongest players in the country at 6-5, 215 and can run a 6.70 60.

OF Joe Dunigan (St. Ignatius Prep, IL/Top Tier): The fourth of the AFLAC All-Americans, Dunigan has a potent left handed bat and plenty of speed and arm strength in centerfield.

RHP Jeremy Hellickson (Hoover HS, IA/Perfect Game Navy): A member of the USA National 16 and Under team, Hellickson already throws in the low 90's and should be one of the top pitching prospects in the country in 2005.

LHP Danny Bales (Kennedy HS, IA/Perfect Game Navy)
RHP Mike Bowden (Aurora, IL/Illinois Sports Academy)
RHP David Conroy (Mt. Vernon HS, IA, Perfect Game Red)
C Alex Hale (Creighton Prep, NE/Wisconsin Blazers)
OF Michael Harrington (Xavier HS, IA/Perfect Game Navy)
RHP Tim Radmacher (Rosemount HS, MN/Team Minnesota)
CF Edwin Roman (Princeton Community HS, IN/Indiana Yankees)
1B Ryan Schweikert (Bloomfield Central HS, WI/Hitters Baseball)
SS Ryan Wehrle (Papillion La Vista HS, NE/Wisconsin Blazers)

It's almost impossible to predict the eventual champion at a tournament like this because of the need for a deep pitching staff. But three teams stand out at first glance at the rosters.

The Indiana Yankees have two of the top players in the tournament in Campbell and Roman (although neither pitches) and are 37-7-1 as a team this summer. They pulled off the upset of the summer at the WWBA Senior Championship, beating the National Connie Mack champion East Cobb Astros in medal round competition before finishing third in that 50 team event.

The Wisconsin Blazers have raided Nebraska for that state's top two players in Hale and Wehrle and will be pitching the top hurler in Michigan in Jostock, along with having their own state's top athlete in Beranek. Again, it's worth noting that Hale, Wehrle and Beranek don't pitch.

The Perfect Game Navy team features some of the top talent in the state of Iowa and on paper appears to have more pitching depth than any other team at the tournament. Many of their players will also sleep at home during the event, not a small consideration when they may have to play six games in 52 hours.

The rest of the field includes the following teams:

Diamond One Baseball
East Iowa Select
Hitters Baseball
Illinois Sports Academy
KC White Sox
Lombard Lightning Blue
Lombard Lightning Grey
Perfect Game Red
Q.C. Net Works
Second Season
St. Louis Diamond Stars
Team Minnesota
Top Tier

All game results and game capsules will be posted on Worldwoodbat.com as soon as possible during the tournament. Tournament brackets are posted on both the World Wood Bat Association web site and on Perfectgame.org. Please feel free to share any comments about the Tournament, the players and the teams on the Worldwoodbat.com Forum.
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