Pitching for Priests softball series tied 3—3

Both teams pose for a group photo. The KCK squad in red and the KCSJ in blue. (photo courtesy of Catholic Radio Network)

Megan Marley

The sixth annual Pitching for Priests softball game held July 5 between Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kans. and Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph priests resulted in a 14-12 loss for the KC-SJ team, and a series tie of 3-3.
Over 3,000 people packed T-Bones Stadium in Kansas City, Kans. to enjoy the fun Friday night game and help support seminarians of both dioceses through ticket sales and donations.

“We played really great defense in the first innings, then their offense started opening up in the later innings—that’s sort of the flow of the game,” said Fr. Adam Johnson, vocations director.

“We feel bad we let the bishop down—we know how much he likes having that trophy in the Chancery,” he continued.

Still, the fast-action game kept the audience on the edge of their seats and cheering loudly for both sides the entire night. Fr. Johnson and Mark Sappington, former MLB pitcher currently directing discipleship and evangelization at Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish, later gave their take on the most memorable plays of the night:

“Fr. Andrew Kleine (KCSJ) turned on the burners and slid into home, taking out Fr. Carter Zielinski (KCK) in the knees, resulting in a Fr. Zielinski faceplant in the dirt. Though initially ruled safe at home, the third base umpire, who was also the crew chief of the umpires, overturned the call as Kliene did two illegal things—one, he went to the wrong home plate; and two, he slid in and took out the catcher. It was certainly a highlight of the game,” Sappington said.

“Kleine (ordained last month) in his rookie year game is still learning the rules; there’s the regular home plate and they have a secondary home plate just for this purpose, so there aren’t collisions at home,” Fr. Johnson said.
“Fr. Dan Morris (KCK) crushed a foul ball almost out of the entire park, that was impressive,” said Sappington. “And Fr. Simon Baker, OSB (KCK) was a vacuum in left field, cleaning up everything.”

“Some of our seminarians were base runners, including some of our guys who are just entering—like Tommy Ross, Jacob Knott, and Collin Elder—all ran bases. We’re pleased with their base running,” Johnson said. “I think we’re doing a better job at recruiting athletes for seminary, to develop our pipeline—we’re thinking long-term.”

“It was a unique play that Fr. Justin Hoye (KCSJ) had at home plate…he backed up home—a very savvy move by a veteran player. The ball got past the catcher, but he grabbed it and threw it back to the catcher for a double force out. And a double force out isn’t even possible in regular baseball, but that happened here—it was an amazing play. That game wouldn’t have been close if it hadn’t been for that,” Sappington said.

“Fr. Gabe Lickteig (KCSJ) covered more ground than a Jesuit missionary in the 1500’s—he was everywhere all the time,” said Sappington.

Fr. Curt Vogel runs for home at the July 5 Pitching for Priests softball game. (Photo courtesy of Catholic Radio Network)

“Fr. Gabe had one of the best moments of the night, at the very end. We’re down two runs, he’s our final at bat, we have two men on to have the chance to tie things up or give us the lead with a good hit. Everything’s come down to this last at bat,” Johnson said.

“He’s about to walk from the batter’s box, stops and walks over to Archbishop Naumann, kneels down in front of Archbishop Naumann (KCK) for his blessing. The Archbishop gave him this little halfway sort of blessing thing, and then afterwards he ended up not making good contact,” he continued.

“Maybe Archbishop gave him a curse instead of a blessing?” he joked, laughing.

Win or lose, both sides benefit in having funds to support seminarians’ education on their way to the priesthood.

“It was a lot of fun, people came out to support us and that’s all that matters,” said seminarian Pius Awasom gratefully.


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November 25, 2020
The Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph