March 21, 2023

J-Train roars past SuperChief for NAFA WoodBat Nationals title

ANADARKO, Oklahoma — The J-Train from Newton, Kansas, backed up its 2009 championship by claiming the 2011 NAFA WoodBat Nationals title Sunday in Anadarko, Oklahoma.
Behind the pitching of Ray Foster, J-Train went 3-0 in the winners bracket then defeated SuperChief from Anadarko in the “if” game for the championship.
SuperChief, paced by David Beets’ stellar pitching, was runner-up, followed by the Compadres out of San Antonio, Texas, in third and the Rocky Mountain Rebels (Colorado) in fourth. Wizards of Oz (Kansas) placed fifth.
Other teams competing in Anadarko included Charlie B’s (El Reno, Okla.), Hybredz (Anadarko) and Dodge (El Reno).
SuperChief’s second-place effort was highlighted by two extra-inning barnburners. Saturday night, SuperChief fended off the Compadres in 13 innings. Sunday, Beets threw a one-hitter as SuperChief beat J-Train 1-0 in 10 innings to force the “if” game.
In the “if” game, SuperChief forced J-Train starter Foster out of the game in the fifth. J-Train trailed by a run in the bottom of the seventh before rallying with two outs, as Rico Garcia scored the winning run on a SuperChief throwing error.
Phillip Gomez and the city of Anadarko hosted the tourney, which was played in searing Midwest heat in front of hundreds of enthusiastic spectators at idyllic Randlett Park.
“It was miserable out there, but both teams had a good time,” Beets said. “It was two heavyweights going after it. I left everything I had out on the field.”
Foster was named Most Valuable Pitcher for the tourney, while J-Train’s Steve Roach was Most Valuable Player. Roach played third base and pitched, relieving Foster in the championship game.
Other J-Train NAFA WoodBat All-Americans were shortstop Garcia, infielder Tony Jaso Jr., Bubba Ramirez and Vicente Vieyra. Vieyra, competing in his first fastpitch tournament, smashed the ball all weekend, including a game-winning inside-the-park homer against SuperChief in the winners bracket final.
Manager Ray Jaso said playing with wooden bats levels makes for more competitive games. “With wooden bats, you’re not going to get the same pop. You really have to square the ball up if you want to hit the gaps. So every game is up for grabs. It really levels the playing field. We had a couple of guys who had played wood bat before, so we knew what to expect and that helped us out.”
Beets threw 51 innings to catcher AJ Wetselline — most in 108-degree Oklahoma heat — to earn all-tournament accolades. Beets was joined by teammates Kevin Botone and Angelo Sleeper on the All-American team as SuperChief made its debut on the wood-bat scene. “You have to be really fundamentally sound,” Beets said. “Bunting is a lot more important. The guys are used to the high-dollar aluminum bats, so there is a learning curve.”
Three of the four Sunday games went to extra innings, including a 4-3 comeback win by the Compadres against the Rebels, who got a strong pitching effort from T.J. Martin for their best finish in the six years of the WoodBat Nationals.
The Compadres and Rocky Mountain Rebels both placed three players on the All-American team — shortstop Horacio Berrones, pitcher Guadalupe Jose Reyes and pitcher Jorge Rendon for Compadres and Todd Kensler, Chris Petroski and Joaquin Padilla for the Rebels.
“It was the best fastpitch I have seen since the early ’90s at any level,” said Dave Parker, NAFA WoodBat commissioner. “It was unbelievable. It was a step back in time 20 years. The playing field was as level as I have seen it in the history of the tournament. It was anyone’s to win.
“Great tournament. The Midland,Texas, umpires on the main field were as solid as group of umpires that have been together in a long time. Very good group.”
Event sponsors included the Padilla family (Denver, Colo.); Dean Parker and family (Rawlins, Wyo.); Dave Parker and family (Midland,Texas); Dean Fields and family (Odessa,Texas); Gary Jarvis and family (Midland,Texas); Tim Hatten and Blackhawk Athletic Club (Rockford, Ill.).
NAFA WoodBat Nationals — Champions Circle
2011 — J-Train (Newton, Kansas)
2010 — New Image (Monfort, Wisconsin)
2009 — J-Train (Newton, Kansas)
2008 — Fort Collins Fastpitch (Fort Collins, Colorado) ***CO-CHAMPS
Todd’s Trailer Sales (Sutton, Nebraska) ***CO-CHAMPS
2007 — Dragons (Englewood, Colorado)
2006 — Fort Collins Fastpitch (Fort Collins, Colorado)