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Archdiocesan priests dominate annual softball game

Playing in his first Pitching for Priests game, Deacon Tim Skoch reached base on all five of his at bats on the night and delivered the game-winning hit in the top of the sixth inning at Legends Field in Kansas City, Kansas. LEAVEN PHOTO BY JAY SOLDNER

by Todd Habiger

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Coming off a weeklong retreat at Benedictine College in Atchison, the priests of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas went out on June 10 and put on an impressive display of softball, dominating the priests from the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph 29-18 in the eighth annual Pitching for Priests softball game, played at Legends Field here.

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann felt that the priests’ retreat had a positive effect on his team.

“Prayer is the foundation of everything. Having those days of prayer prepared us for the victory tonight,” he said.

It helps to have Jesus and Pope Francis on your side. A couple of enthusiastic fans brought in some clever signs to show their support for the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas. LEAVEN PHOTO BY JAY SOLDNER

The archbishop also enjoyed seeing his guys together on the field.

“They were having fun,” he said. “There’s a great spirit among our priests. They really enjoy being together, and I think it showed tonight.”

Father Anthony Mersmann, left, associate pastor of  Holy Cross Parish, Overland Park, and Father Andrew Strobl, pastor of Holy Spirit Parish, Overland Park, watch from the dugout as their teammates bat. LEAVEN PHOTO BY JAY SOLDNER

Playing before an enthusiastic crowd of around 3,000, the archdiocesan priests wasted no time putting runs on the board.

The archdiocese scored 7 runs in the first inning thanks to three-run home runs by Father Dan Morris and Father Nick Blaha. Father Adam Wilczak added a home run in the first as well.

The Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph would come back to tie the game at 11-11 in the second inning, but they would get no closer.

Although hampered by a bum knee, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann appeared as a pinch hitter and delivered a pop-up that was misplayed, leading to two runs for the archdiocese. LEAVEN PHOTO BY JAY SOLDNER

Although limited by a bad knee, the archbishop stepped to the plate as a pinch hitter in the fifth inning. His infield pop-up fell between several Kansas City-St. Joseph players, allowing  two runners to score and put the archdiocese up 27-16 at the time.

The Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph could only muster two runs in their half of the fifth inning, making the score 27-18.

With a score of 27-18, the archdiocese only needed two runs in the sixth inning to put the game out of reach. The unique rules of Pitching for Priests allows only 10 batters per inning in the six-inning game. An 11-run lead would make it impossible for the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph to win.

Transitional deacon for the archdiocese George Rhodes, manning the shortstop position, gets ready to fire the ball to third base to get the lead runner out. LEAVEN PHOTO BY JAY SOLDNER

Deacon Tim Skoch, playing in his first Pitching for Priests game, reminded his team of that fact as the archdiocese came to bat in the sixth. He urged them to score — “but not too quickly. I want to bat again.”

He got his wish. Up by 10 runs and with two runners on base, Deacon Skoch sent a line drive to the outfield for the game winner. The transitional deacon, who will be ordained a priest next year, enjoyed the chance to play and bond with the archdiocesan priests.        

“I’m really thankful to be home,” he said. “I’ve been away for formation for six years in Denver. When I get the two months here in the summer, it’s so fun to be with the brothers. I hope to play in many more games.”

To view an album of photos from Pitching for Priests, click here.

About the author

Todd Habiger

Todd has been the production manager for The Leaven since 1995. Under his direction The Leaven has won multiple design awards from the Catholic Press Association. Prior to working at The Leaven, Todd was an award-winning writer for The Catholic Key newspaper in Kansas City, Mo. Todd is married to Lori Wood Habiger, a former Leaven employee herself. They have two children — Paige and Connor, and one dog — Joli.

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