CHASKA – For Owatonna senior Kodey Kiel, baseball has been a key part of his time as a Husky. It also will be a key part of his future after committing to play baseball at St. Mary’s University.
However, before he shelves the silver and blue of Owatonna for the red and black of the Cardinal, there was one jersey left to be donned.
An all-star jersey.
The future St. Mary’s Cardinal was one of twenty players to be selected to represent southern Minnesota in the 43rd annual Play Ball! Minnesota High School Baseball All-Star Series, which would pit the state’s best baseball players in a 12-team showcase Friday and Saturday.
In fact, three of the state’s players who were honored with selection were unable to participate after being drafted in the 2017 MLB Draft, to include Burnsville hurler Sam Carlson, who was selected 55th overall to the Seattle Mariners.
“It’s a cool experience,” added Kiel. “Every pitcher you see is going to be good. You don’t even have to ask ‘what’s he throw’ because you know he’s going to have good stuff.”
It wasn’t all about playing baseball but rather promoting it within the state.
On Thursday evening, the committee held a banquet honoring not just the players, but their parents as well. They were also able to attend the horse races at Canterberry Park. At the banquet they also were able to listen to Thad Levine of the Minnesota Twins talk about what goes into the sport itself, from the high school level, to even how philosophies are established for building a lineup for the big leagues.
On Friday morning, prior to the series’ opening game, Kiel and the rest of the South All-Stars made the quick trek to Minnetonka to play in another special game. Only this game, there was no real winner or loser.
They played a game with kids who have special needs in the Minnetonka Miracle Field. Kiel noted it was a moment that allow a bit of perspective and showed the real love for the game.
“They were really energetic so it was easy to just go out there and play with them,” added Kiel. “We just played with them, ran the bases, helped them hit, it was fun.”
After making it back to the Chaska Athletic Park, all 12-teams were in attendance to cheer on their teammate in the home run derby.
Once each of the 12 players were done showing off their power, the games started in full force. Kiel’s South All-Stars narrowly escaped with a 10-9 win in Friday night’s contest before surging to the tournament’s championship game, where they ultimately fell to the Metro West All-Stars 6-1. Kentucky commit Jimmy Ramsey of Minnetonka was on the mound for Metro West.
In Friday night’s game, Kiel was 1-for-3 at the plate with a pair of RBIs on a hard line drive to right-center field.
The tournament marked the culmination for his high school career, one that ended with an All-Big Nine Conference team selection and a future at the collegiate level. However, when taking the time for looking back on his career, Kiel noted that he was fortunate for his time as a Husky.
“It was just a good experience,” he added. “I’ve grown a lot. Everybody is playing in college so I’ll get to see them again in college or hear about them and that’s fun too.”
Kiel was have nearly a month left of playing ball for Owatonna before heading to St. Mary’s.