Last year's team advanced to the Midwest League Championship Series and this year's squad is red hot, with the playoffs just over a week away.

The Kernels have to finish in one of the top two spots in the Midwest League Western Divison standings when the regular season ends on Labor Day to get into the playoffs. Currently riding a six-game winning streak, Cedar Rapids has a four-game cushion over Burlington, who sits in third place. That makes Cedar Rapids' magic number just three heading into the final week of the regular season. Any Cedar Rapids win or Burlington loss reduces the Kernels magic number by one, meaning they COULD have a playoff spot wrapped up by as soon as Tuesday.

Last September was a fun one at Veterans Memorial Stadium. Cedar Rapids roared through the first two rounds of the playoffs and took 2-1 series lead in the best of five championship series against West Michigan before losing back-to-back one-run games to finish the season one win short of the title.

Cedar Rapids doesn't return to Veterans Memorial Stadium until Saturday, for a regular-season-ending series against Clinton. That's the same team the Kernels would play in the playoffs. Clinton is 25-5 at home during the second half of the season, but just 18-14 on the road, identical to the Kernels home record during the second half (18-14). Those numbers don't bode particularly well, but let's worry about that when the time comes. For now, here's hoping Cedar Rapids has that playoff spot locked up long before the bus pulls into Cedar Rapids.

[via Kernels and Kernels]