Courtesy of Perfect Game.

Late Sunday night, East Carolina University baseball picked up its first commitment of the 2023 class in Nation Ford High School product Kenan Bowman. Listed at 5’11” and 160 pounds, Bowman is a middle infielder with versatility and range that can play every position on the dirt.

With a solid frame and plenty of pop in his bat, Bowman was being pursued by a handful of Power 5 schools before ECU swooped in and added Kenan to its growing stable of future talent.

“The recruiting process for me was fun and I had a really good time talking to all the different coaches and getting to know them,” Bowman said. “I obviously got to know coach (Jeff) Palumbo and coach (Cliff) Godwin the best, that’s why I chose ECU. It was just a really good process for me. It happened pretty fast, but I enjoyed it.”

Bowman said getting to know his future coaches well and knowing what to expect from them on a daily basis was a huge part of his decision on what school to attend. It also helped that Bowman has had a cousin and some friends go to ECU and see first-hand how Pirate Nation treats the baseball program.

“For me, it was all about getting to know the coaches,” Bowman said. “The coaches were awesome — coach Palumbo and coach Godwin — they’re going to always be honest with me, they’re going to work me hard and that’s what I really liked. When I visited, I really loved the community and how they’re all so into the baseball year, and I loved that the community is into baseball so much and they make the games fun and wild. That’s just what I love.”

ECU started recruiting Bowman about a month ago. In that time, the coaching staff struck him as a hard-working group that does not like to cut corners in its pursuit of excellence. Bowman said Godwin and staff displayed a caring attitude about more than just baseball, something that also stuck out to him.

“They’re always going to be hard on you and they’re going to always be honest with you and they’re going to push you to be the best, not just let you go,” Bowman said. “They want you to get the full extent of your athleticism. They also want to make you a better person throughout the process. That’s what I really liked about them. They’re just hard-working coaches and they want to win a national championship and that’s what I’m all about…

“I just felt really comfortable with my decision and I knew that coach Godwin and coach Palumbo are going to take care of me. It’s the best team in the nation, so why not?”

What the Pirates are getting in Bowman in a two-sport athlete that is comfortable at the top of a batting order. A defensive back and wide receiver on the gridiron, Bowman has a quiet, simple swing that generates plenty of power to the pull side.

“I play very different than most of the baseball players,” Bowman said. “I’m not a guy that’s going to hit bombs. I might put one deep maybe once and awhile, but I’m the type of kid that will get on base, cause havoc, steal bases, score runs, help the team. In the field, my range is probably the best part about me in the middle infield.”

A threat to rack up a high on-base percentage, tape on Bowman reveals he has enough speed to be a game-changer on the base paths alone.

At the plate, Bowman said his approach boils down to the desire to get on base by any means necessary. If that includes hunting fastballs to deposit into a gap or over the fence, so be it, but most of the time it means being patient at the dish, seeing a lot of pitches and setting his team up for big innings.

“It always depends on the situation,” Bowman said of his approach at the plate. “It depends like what inning, how many runners are on base. If it’s just the beginning of the game, start of the game I’m at lead-off, I’m thinking get on base no matter what, no matter how. Have a quality at-bat, make the pitcher waste pitches and just get on base no matter what because I know I got some big dogs behind me that’ll hit me in.”

Despite his commitment to play baseball at ECU, Bowman said he does not intend to stop playing football, a sport he’s played since fourth grade. In his mind, playing football makes him unique compared to most of his other competitors on the baseball diamond. Going deeper than just keeping him in shape during the winter, football presents Bowman with a different mentality that he otherwise would not have had.

“The mentality of being a dog in football,” Bowman said. “A lot of kids that just play baseball, it’s kind of different because they haven’t been in the football atmosphere of playing the game. I just feel like that dog mentality on the football field translated over to the baseball field for me and I feel like that’s a main factor in why I love football.”

Perhaps Bowman could become a two sport star in purple and gold for both Godwin and Mike Houston. During the quarantine that stemmed from the spread of the COVID-19 virus, Bowman never stopped working to prepare his body for the rigors of playing two physically demanding sports.

Working toward his goal of being a freshman starter for the Pirates, Bowman said he bulked up during the down time and took full advantage of an opportunity to learn and train with older kids.

“This quarantine was probably the best thing that ever happened to me,” Bowman said. “I really took advantage of it. I was at the field working out three times a day getting work in every chance I could with older kids, kids my age, just getting work in every single day. I probably gained 10 or 15 pounds over quarantine, got really big, hit the weight room a lot. I think it was one of the best things that ever happened to me sports-wise.”

With a number of years until Bowman steps foot on ECU’s campus as a freshman, he has plenty of time to work toward his goal of making an impact for the Pirates right away. In recent years, we have seen freshmen make their way into Godwin’s lineups, especially if they bring versatility and an edge to his program.

Intending to study business at ECU, Bowman wants to continue getting better, both in the classroom and on the field.

“I think the main thing is just getting faster and stronger and just building that power and working as hard as I can to be a freshman starter,” Bowman said. “That’s the goal for me right now. The work just started so now I got to keep rolling and start my freshman year and impact the university.”

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