Taft Buzzards Qualify to Fight for World Championship

Written by Bob on April 24th, 2015

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The 2015 Taft Buzzards men’s fastpitch team. Courtesy Photo / Matthew Davis

By Karnese Owens / Reporter

TAFT, Calif. – Taft’s very own Men’s Softball Fastpitch team, the Buzzards, has qualified to fight for the title of a NAFA World Series championship! The Taft Buzzards is a team compiled of mostly Taft natives.

On April 12, 2015, the Buzzards went 5-0 to win a 16-team (Las Vegas Road Trip VIII) tournament in Las Vegas, Nevada which qualified them to play in the NAFA World Series in Moline, Illinois. This tournament will take place in August, and the Buzzards will be competing against teams from all over the world.

The Buzzard’s line up consists of pitchers Ron Mizener, Alan Miller, and Rob Davis, all from Taft. Matt Davis, also from Taft, plays catcher.

Other position players from Taft include: Buddy Owens, Eddie Martin, Luke Shelby, Sam Veach, and Jeremiah Twisselman. Additional players include Kacy Aakus, of Bakersfield; as well as Nate Hiromerides, Phil Hiromerides, Tyler McGaughey, and Keith Herbster of Santa Barbara. The coaches are Rudy Montanez of Los Angeles and Dan Willingham, another Taft native.

What this team has done is nothing short of amazing!

The Buzzards claimed the A-Division title in the Las Vegas Road Trip by beating the Northwest Naturals 5-0, Rio Grande 4-3, the Blue Jays 6-5; and in the winners bracket final, Taft beat Press Box of Montana 6-2 to advance to the championship. Press Box came back to beat the Sykos 7-2 in the losers bracket final, setting up a rematch with Taft. But the Buzzards out-slugged Press Box, 12-7, to take their first tournament title of the young season.

The Las Vegas championship assures the Buzzards of a trip to Moline for the 22nd Annual North American Fastpitch (NAFA) World Championship that will be held Aug. 6-16.

To qualify for a world tournament birth, and to be given the chance to play on a world-level ball field against teams from all over the globe is a huge accomplishment. Making this commitment to the team is not the only thing these guys do, however.

Most of them give back to our community in their everyday lives.

Dan Willingham has volunteered his umpiring skills for 30 years to WSRPD, and has helped with many events put on by the Rec. Ron Mizener has coached basketball and softball for the Rec and Little League for many years. Matt Davis grew up playing ball here in town, and is now coaching with the Taft Longhorns and Taft Union High School. Next year, Davis will be coaching at Taft College.

Eddie Martin has helped coach softball at the high school for many years, along with Rob Davis, who has also coached at the college. Buddy Owens has coached soccer for WSRPD, and both T-ball and pitching machine for Little League. Lastly, the team secretaries, Karnese Owens and Sarah Miller are both teachers here in Taft.

The members of this team spend a lot of their own time and money coming to practices and traveling to tournaments, but this doesn’t stop them from volunteering and helping out in our community.

The team is looking for sponsors and/or monetary donations that will help off-set the cost of plane tickets, rental cars, and motels. If you are interested in helping the Buzzards make it to the World Tournament, please contact any of the players, or call Dan Willingham at (661)623-0765, or email danwillingham@hotmail.com. We thank you in advance for your support of your local Taft team!

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