For the last three years, likely one of the best players in program history has roamed the outfield for the Blue Streaks’ baseball team at Archbold Memorial Park.
Kade Kern, who was set for his senior season this year, has turned all his hard work into a scholarship at Ohio State University, where he will begin his college career next year.
“It’s a blessing,” Kern said of signing with Ohio State. “I’m an Ohio guy, so, Ohio State’s always been my favorite school. My family’s favorite school. Just to be able to go there, was a pretty cool moment.”
Recognition from Division I schools happened early on for Kern, as he made his presence felt on the diamond right out of the gate at Archbold.
But things really picked up the summer following his sophomore season, while playing for Ohio Elite Baseball.
“Ohio State was interested in Kade even before his junior year,” said Archbold baseball coach Dick Selgo. “It was a smart move on their part to make him an offer and get him signed, because other schools were going to be after him hard if OSU hadn’t signed him.”
The opportunity is a dream come true for Kern.
“I’ve always had the dream as a kid to play Division I baseball,” he said. “And then, coming up into my high school career, I started varsity as a freshman. So that kind of motivated me even more.”
Despite being an avid Ohio State fan, what ultimately sold Kern on playing for the Buckeyes was the support of the coaching staff, who revealed to him they thought he was a do-it-all type of player.
“They just like what I’m able to do out on the field,” said Kern. “They like that I can drive the ball. I can spray the ball around the fields. I’m quick, I can play any position in the outfield. My arm is strong enough to play any position in the outfield.”
Kern shares that same level of affection for his future team.
“What kind of sold me was their coaching staff. Just a great group of people,” he said. “I really fit with them. Coach (Greg) Beals is just a fantastic coach. And I’m an outfielder, and I really like their outfield coach, Matt Angle. That kind of helped me (make my decision). I think I might be able to make an impact early in the lineup there.”
Down the line, whether it be after three or four years of playing in Columbus, he hopes it eventually leads to a career in Major League Baseball. That has been his goal ever since he was little, and he will do everything possible to achieve it.
“I want to play in the major leagues. And I want to make an impact in the majors. That’s kind of my end goal,” explained Kern.
Kern believes if he can get on the field early and make an impact at OSU, that would pave the way for an eventual chance in the majors. However, he knows steady improvement will be key.
“I need to keep getting stronger — faster. Keep working on my swing. But I think if I keep doing that, I’ll be able to perform in the games. If I’m able to perform, and stay consistent all three years, that should help me,” said Kern.
The influence Kern has had on the Archbold program in just three years is immeasurable. He already holds the school record for career runs batted in with 81, and the single-season mark with 36.
Furthermore, should there be a baseball season this year — which is still up in the air due to the COVID-19 pandemic — he would likely break school records for career hits, at-bats, and games played. And also, the single-season home run record of seven would also be “in jeopardy,” according to coach Selgo.
The veteran Blue Streak skipper is not surprised by any of Kern’s accomplishments — after seeing how hard he works.
“It is off the charts,” said Selgo, speaking to Kern’s work ethic. “I have never seen a high school kid work as hard as he has, and we’ve had some kids work pretty hard in the past. The example Kade has set for every player in our program is tremendous. And the best part is his humble attitude. He doesn’t carry an arrogant, cockiness that some players of his ability might do. It’s real easy to be a fan of his. His teammates love him.”
Kern helped the Streaks win district championships and reach the regional tournament in each of the last three seasons. And while in the end they ultimately failed to advance to state, many memories were made.
Without Kern, it likely would have been a more difficult road.
Last season, for example, he posted a .431 batting average, drove in 32 RBIs and hit three home runs.
“There is no question as to how much Kade has meant to our team over the last three years,” said Selgo of Kern’s contribution to the Blue Streaks’ success. “He made an immediate impact as a freshman, and has continued upward each season from there.”
Yes, it’s a fact the Archbold program has experienced a ton of good fortune over the last three seasons. But what stands out most to Kern from that time? Their overwhelming team comraderie.
“Everyone’s always clicked and we’ve had great chemistry as teams,” he said. “Really just the guys on the team have made it a great time every year. And we’ve been able to make decent runs every year. Never been able to crack regionals like we wanted to. That’s what we were hoping on doing this year, and maybe we’ll still have a shot at that.”
Regardless if there is sports this spring, next year Kern will have to turn the page on high school and begin his journey at Ohio State. He hopes a great college career leads to what he has always dreamed of, a career in the major league’s.
Selgo has faith he can make history as the fourth Archbold player to play professionally, joining the likes of John Young (St. Louis Browns), Gene Bridges (Detroit Tigers) and Ed Grime (Philadelphia Phillies).
“Because of his work ethic, and his passion for the game, there is no limit as to what he might accomplish in the future, whether it be in college, or even professional baseball,” said Selgo of Kern.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010