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Kernels Championship opens Friday

Tournaments : : Story
Patrick Ebert        
Published: Thursday, September 26, 2013

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – The 12th annual WWBA Kernels Foundation Championship will take place Sept. 27-30 at various fields in and around the Cedar Rapids, Iowa area. Perfect Game Field at Veterans Memorial Stadium, home of the Cedar Rapids Kernels, the class A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins, will serve as the hub for the event while hosting the event's semi-finals and championship games on Monday, Sept. 30.

The event will also include a fastest man competition and home run challenge, both of which will be held at Perfect Game Field starting at 7:30 pm on Saturday night.

The 44 teams that are scheduled to participate will be placed in 11 pools of four teams each. Each winner of their respective pool, and one wild card, will advance to the playoffs set to begin on Sunday afternoon. The eventual champion of this year's tournament will receive an automatic paid invitation to the 2013 WWBA World Championship to be held Oct. 24-28 in Jupiter, Fla.

The teams are being assembled from 12 different states and provinces in the upper Midwest and Canada, including Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Ontario, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

Several prominent Division I college baseball recruits will be participating in the event, with the Reds Midwest Scout Team (Milwaukee, Wis.) boasting 11 such players. The most notable of which is Vanderbilt recruit and speedy outfielder Jeren Kendall, currently ranked No. 59 in Perfect Game's high school class of 2014 player rankings. The Reds Midwest Scout Team has won the tournament two of the last four years and has been the runner-up in 2006-2008 as well as in 2010.

Elite Baseball Training 2015 (Chicago, Ill.) and the Iowa Select Black (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) teams each have nine D-I commits on their rosters, while Team DeMarini-Koutnik (Lemont, Ill.) has eight. Last year's champions, the Giants Scout Team, have four Division I recruits on their roster.

Other 2013 participants that have won championships at the Kernels Foundation Championship in past years include Hitters Baseball (2007, Racine, Wis.) and the St. Louis Pirates (2008).

Perfect Game will sponsor five of the teams in attendance. In addition to the Iowa Select Black team, there are two more PG-based select teams, Iowa Select Navy and Red, made up predominantly of players from Iowa, as well as PG Iowa Steel and PG Wisconsin.

Cedar Rapids native Mitch Keller of Xavier High School will be playing for the Iowa Select Black team. Keller is ranked 331
st in the Perfect Game's national rankings of the top high school players in the class of 2014, and No. 3 in the state of Iowa.

Josh VanMeter and Nathan Mikolas, who were named the tournament's MVP each of the last two years, have gone on to be selected in the fifth and third rounds of the MLB Draft by the Padres and Yankees respectively.

Eleven past participants have debuted in Major League Baseball, including Des Moines, Iowa native and 2011 American League Rookie of the Year Jeremy Hellickson. 2012 18-game winner Lance Lynn of the St. Louis Cardinals also participated in the event in 2004, as did Washington Nationals set-up man Drew Storen. Fellow Nationals bullpen-mate Ian Krol is the most recent Kernels Foundation Championship alum to make his big-league debut.

For more information, team rosters, locations and the event schedule, please visit the 2013 WWBA Kernels Foundation Championship event page.

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