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Outstanding teams in the 2014 NAFA AA & AA-Major Divisions

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

nafa.ws.illustration.3Abw The 2014 NAFA World Series runs from Aug. 7-17 with five divisions of teams competing for championships at the Quad Cities of Illinois & Iowa. visit the NAFA Fastpitch for complete tournament information.

QUAD CITIES – Well, it’s nine days and counting before the top divisional teams – the AA & AA-Major’s – take to the ball diamonds at Green Valley Sports Complex and Rock Island Campbell Sports Complex to kick off the 2014 NAFA World Series in the fastpitch mecca of the Quad Cities of Illinois and Iowa.

I don’t know many of the teams or players personally, but I’m going to make a few predictions based upon past results and what I know about the teams. (See Printable Pool Play Bracket: AA : AA-M Pool Play)

Pool A: Maple Farm Equipment Bronx, Saskatchewan, Canada: 2013 A-Major champion. The question: Can they make the jump up in division and compete in the tough AA & AA-Major? I think so.

Pool B: Kelso Fastpitch of Kelso, Missouri. I appreciate the way this team has stuck together with a mostly local roster from the small town of Kelso (pop. about 600), located along the Missouri and Illinois border. This year marked the 30th Annual Kelso Klassic Tournament. (See photo gallery.

Pool C: Got to go with Topeka Toros. Always give everyone problems – from ISC to NAFA. Doesn’t seem to matter what division their opponent is rated, the Toros just pick up the sticks and gloves and say, “let’s get it on!”

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Kegel Black Knights celebrate anniversary year with world championship

Saturday, August 10th, 2013

kegel.warne.safe.104web Kegel’s Mitch Warne slides safely into home plate with the winning run in the Black Knights 2-1 victory over the Winterset A’s in the NAFA AA-Major World Series Championship. Warne scored the game-winner on a wild pitch by A’s pitcher Marshall Kronk (45) in the bottom of the seventh. Photo By BOB OTTO

DES MOINES, Iowa – Year after unfailing year the Kegel Black Knights have fielded a men’s fastpitch softball team – this year marks their 30th anniversary.

And what better way to celebrate such a remarkable achievement than winning an international championship. The Black Knights of Fargo did just that late Friday night by defeating a tough band of Winterset, Iowa A’s 2-1 to claim the North American Fastpitch Association AA-Major World Series title.

For Matt Darling – selected the AA-Major Most Valuable Player – this was his first NAFA championship.

“This is so nice to come out here and win this,” said Darling who had retired for a couple years, but was added to Kegel’s roster for the tournament. “This division had a lot of good pitchers, so to put up some decent runs is a credit to everybody on our team.”

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Kronk and Haldane hook up in pitchers duel

Friday, August 9th, 2013

Winterset A’s 2, Seattle Cal-State Builders 1

winterset.kronk.marshall.69 Marshall Kronk, a 19-year-old Australian led the Winterset A’s to a 2-1 victory over the Cal-State Builders to advance to the winners bracket final in the NAFA AA-Major championship, Friday. Kronk struck out 12 with his No. 1 pitch: “The rise ball is my out pitch,” he said.

The Builders’ Rich Haldane and the A’s Marshall Krong hooked up in a pitchers duel in the NAFA AA-Major playoffs, but Kronk, a 19-year-old Australian from Brisbane, Queensland, came out the winner in this NAFA AA-Major matchup.

Winterset pulled out a 2-1 win by scoring twice in the third inning on back-to-back singles by shortstop Bryce Kay (2 for 4) and Jason Darling (1 for 4), whose short fly ball fell safely in left field and sent Kay racing home. A throwing error on the play then allowed Kay to cross the plate safely for the second run.

builders.moore.HR.147webA Ricky Moore is congratulated by Builders manager Dave Carlton after hitting a home run in the seventh. Photo By BOB OTTO

Catcher Ricky Moore (2 or 3) gave the Builders hope in the bottom of the seventh by launching a line drive home run deep over the left field fence. But Kronk toughened by getting a ground ball and a strikeout to end the game.

Kronk had his rise ball spinning sharply over the bats of the Builders, but he left one a little too sweet for Moore, and the right-side hitter crushed it.

“They were chasing my rise ball high,” said Kronk, who improved to 3-0 in the tournament and went 2 for 4 off Haldane. “But I left the rise ball down the middle and inside and fat (to Moore).”

winterset.kay.brice.169webWinterset shortstop Kay Bryce made the play of the game when he raced into left field to catch a short fly ball; he collided with centerfielder Jason Darling but hung on to the ball. Photo By BOB OTTO

Other than that, both hurlers matched each other almost pitch for pitch. Both notched 12 strikeouts. Haldane allowed six hits, Kronk gave up five. And both pitchers gave up just one earned run a piece in this classic pitchers’ duel.

The win moves Winterset into the winners bracket final where they will take on the Fargo Kegel Black Knights who beat the West Fargo Knights 8-2.

The championship game is scheduled for 7:40 p.m. tonight at the Greater Des Moines Softball Complex.

NAFA AA-Major World Series has strong field

Thursday, July 4th, 2013

NAFA.logo

DES MOINES, IOWA – When it comes to parity, it appears that the NAFA AA-Major World Series is wide open with no clear-cut favorite.

Four of the 15 teams are ranked in the top-25 in the world of men’s fastpitch: The Kegel Black Knights are No. 7; Pete’s Blues, No. 13; the Cal-State Builders, No. 20; The Topeka Toros, No. 23, and New Image No. 24…

But I wouldn’t bet against any of the rest of the field in taking the crown. Just look at the past history of some of these ball clubs and the “who’s who” they have throwing for them.

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