Bowen Fastpitch takes home the NAFA A-Major championship

Written by Bob on August 13th, 2017

The 2017 NAFA A-Major World Series champion Bowen Fastpitch of Bowen, IL, includes Collin Hopkins, Julian Fernandez, Eneas Erbes, Conrado Zanuttini, Austin Ramsey, Facundo Gonzales, Tyler Maskey, Lavern Martin, Zack Barnhart, Alejo Munoz, Tanner Maskey, Dean Lambert and manager Rocco Ramsey. Photo By BOB OTTO / 2017 NAFA World Series

FARGO – They’re young but experienced, confident but not arrogant, and as for talent, Bowen Fastpitch of Bowen, Ill. has plenty of it.

With a lineup of Americans and Argentinians, Bowen swept through the 30-team NAFA A-Major World Series with a 5-0 record, culminating in a rain-shortened, 5-0, victory over R.M. Kurtz of Ephrata, Penn. on Sunday afternoon at Northside Softball Complex.

In the third inning, heavy rain flooded the field and after a short conference, tournament officials and both managers agreed the game was impossible to continue.

Since Bowen was undefeated, while R.M. Kurtz had one loss – administered by Bowen in a 1-0 victory in the winner’s bracket final – it was only logical that Bowen would go home with the first-place trophy.

In Bowen’s march to the championship, the hitters hammered nearly every pitcher they faced, outscoring the opposition 39-6.

“We came out and our sticks were alive,” said Bowen manager Rocco Ramsey. “We came here ready to compete.”

Bowen didn’t waste any time seizing the lead in the championship.

In the bottom of the first, pitcher Julian Fernandez worked a walk in the leadoff spot and one-out later Conrado Zanuttini launched a triple to deep right-field plating Fernandez.

Zanuttini scored on a wild pitch to make it 2-0, followed by Alejo “Chaco” Munoz, who coaxed another walk off R.M. Kurtz starter Derek Martin. Then Eneas Erbes was hit by a pitch, and both runners moved up to second and third on a wild pitch.

That brought Tyler Maskey to the plate and he drilled a pitch off Martin that ricocheted into an infield out, but on the play, Munoz raced home with the third and final run of the inning.

Bowen added its fourth run in the second when Tanner Maskey singled, stole second and third and came across on an infield out. And in the third, a single by Zanuttini and walks to Erbes and Tyler Maskey loaded the bases. And then Martin unleashed a pitch in the dirt that allowed Zanuttini to scamper home with Bowen’s final run.

Meanwhile, Bowen’s 19-year-old Julian Fernandez was hurling his fifth game of the tournament. And he was nearly untouchable.

Fernandez came out blazing, striking out six-of-nine batters he faced, including the side in the top of the first. He finished with a perfect game that caps the week-long tournament in which he threw all of Bowen’s games to carve out a 5-0 mark.

“He used the off speed more in this game,” said Ramsey of his right-hander, who throws upwards of 73 mph. “His change-up is second to none. It curves about a foot.”

Bowen has five Argentinians on its roster. And he expects Fernandez as well as his catcher, Zanuttini to return next year to compete in the AA division as Bowen will have to move up after winning the A-Major.

2017 NAFA A-Major runner-up, R.M. Kurtz of Ephrata, PA includes Jake Fenstermacher, Matt Martin, Josh Burkholder, Lance Kurtz, Kenton Martin, Lane Kurtz, Phil Zimmerman, Matt Spitler, Derek Martin, Zach Spitler, Devin Martin, Triston Martin, Rich Martin, and manager Ralph Kurtz. Photo By BOB OTTO / 2017 NAFA World Series

R.M. Kurtz (5-2) reached the championship by run-ruling the California Buzzards 13-3 in the loser’s bracket final. The Buzzard’s won the A Division title in 2016, and take home the third place trophy, finishing with a 4-2 record.

Though they finished runner-up, manager Ralph Kurtz couldn’t be prouder of his young ball club – many in their early 20s.

“They played their hearts out,” said Kurtz, who has been sponsoring men’s fastpitch teams for over 40 years. “The team we bring is the same as in our (Stevens) League, except for two players we picked up. Our kids love softball.”

Both ball clubs placed several players on the All-World team including Kenton Martin, Matt Martin, Derek Martin and Jake Fenstermacher of R.M. Kurtz.

Bowen’s Tanner Maskey, Alejo Munoz and Eneas Erbes were also chosen.

The most valuable awards were a clean sweep for Bowen as Fernandez took home Most Valuable Pitcher honors, while Facundo Gonzales was selected the Most Valuable Player.

1 Comments so far ↓

  1. Kerwyn Lykken says:

    If softball is going the way of it is easier to go buy your players rather then develop players, I am sad. I would rather take a player and work with him and make him better. Having played fastpitch for 53 years and managed for about 40 years i have a little bit of an idea what I’m talking about. We are doing the sport no good if we take the easy way. I might be old fashioned but we need to get back to developing pitchers and players by eorking with them. My team might not win a National championship but we have been close (Crow Bar out of Sioux Falls South Dakota) but we always came with our league team and the guys that played all year and that has made me proud. Lets develop our kids and the game will be better.

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