First Kernel into the hall: Mitchell’s Schmidt inducted into SDHSBA’s inaugural class
Jason Schmidt’s baseball career was halted this year, but the accolades continue.
The 2008 Mitchell High School graduate was among the inductees to the inaugural South Dakota High School Baseball Association Hall of Fame. Schmidt was one of 16 individual players, two teams and six coaches/contributors inducted into the hall of fame.
Schmidt, a three-time all-state player for the Kernels, was surprised by the induction when he received the news in April. The surprise was that much sweeter because he received the news from Mitchell coach Luke Norden, who serves on the SDHSBA Board of Directors. Norden, who along with Schmidt, guided the Kernels to the 2006 high school state championship.
“It’s always good to talk to your old coaches and especially when they are delivering good news like that,” Schmidt, 31, said. “I don’t really get a chance to talk to Luke very much anymore, but getting the news broke to me from him was definitely a sweet surprise.”
The honor is sweeter given that Schmidt, a lifelong baseball player, currently isn’t playing baseball this year. After high school and American Legion ball for Post 18, Schmidt was a standout performer at Mount Marty College from 2009-12. He’s since played amateur baseball for the Dimock/Emery Raptors.
But the X-ray technician couldn’t play this season under the Avera Heart Hospital in Sioux Falls COVID-19 employee policy. He doesn’t miss making the long road trips, but he still gets the baseball fever.
“I still get the itch to go out there and play with the guys,” Schmidt said. “I miss the camaraderie. I miss hanging out after the game. It’s definitely an odd summer.”
But every other prior spring and summer he’s been playing baseball. The Kernels were humming along when Schmidt was on the team from 2005 to 2008. Mitchell won 37 straight games between 2006 and 2007. As a senior, he hit .429 and posted a 0.72 ERA with 35 strikeouts in 20 innings.
The Kernels’ pitching staff proved to be potent during those years. In addition to Schmidt, Mitchell had Trever Vermeulen, Kirby Oldenkamp and Brett Young at the team’s disposal.
Schmidt, who played primarily shortstop, credited Norden for molding the teams and getting the most out of the players.
“He made us work hard and pushed us in practice to get better -- hit to the opposite field and do all the small things that really show up big when it counts,” Schmidt said.
While the state championship was the biggest highlight, more than anything Schmidt misses the time he shared with his teammates.
“Just all the camaraderie and just the bus trips are what really stick out the most,” Schmidt said. “Playing poker and cards and hanging out with the guys and all that kind of stuff is really what resonates with me.”
Schmidt lives in Sioux Falls with his wife, Megan. The couple has a nine-month-old daughter, Jessa.
Other inductees in the inaugural class hall of fame include: Tyson Gau, Alexandria; Cole Knippling, Chamberlain; Jared Donahue, Winner/Colome; Derek West, Chamberlain; Reid Meierkort, Vermillion; Jake Adams, Brandon Valley; Layne Somsen, Yankton; Dusty Coleman, O’Gorman; Jack VanLeur, Brandon Valley; Connor Schaefbauer, O’Gorman; Robb McClemans, Brookings; Bryce Ahrendt, Tri-Valley; Landon Busch, Brookings; Drew Heithoff, Yankton; Justin Kline, Aberdeen; Bud Jenniges, Hot Springs; J.R. Yde, Baltic/Tri-Valley/Montrose/West Central/Sioux Christian; Jason Gault, Vermillion; Phil Johnson, Chamberlain; Brad Schramm, Winner; Lyle Smith, Sioux Falls; 2008 Aberdeen Smittys and 2010 St. Thomas More.