Former Longhorns play celebrity softball game

Sara Beth Purdy

Two former Longhorn baseball players, Brooks Kieschnick and Curtis Thigpen, battled it out at the Dell Diamond Sunday afternoon in Reckless Kelly’s 4th Annual Celebrity Softball Jam. The nine-inning game, followed by hours of musical entertainment raised money for youth sports in the Central Texas Area.

The Miracle League, a youth league that provides opportunities to children with special needs, as well as other leagues in Austin, Montopolis and Balcones are the main benefactors of the afternoon.

Former softball pitcher Cat Osterman was supposed to play alongside Thigpen for the Sultans of Sing, but she was unable to attend. Osterman, who is still revered on the 40 Acres for her success with the Longhorns, helped lead the United States to a gold medal in the 2004 Olympics in Athens.

Kieschnick took the mound Sunday afternoon as one of the pitcher’s for the One Hit Wonder team. He threw a slow, unfamiliar, underhanded pitch from the mound. Although he gave up a couple of home runs and several singles, Kieschnick had a home run of his own in the eighth inning.

Kieschnick had his number, 23, retired by Texas after winning the Dick Howser Trophy for National Collegiate Baseball Player of the Year twice, in 1992 and 1993. He spent six years in the Majors after being selected in the first round by the Chicago Cubs in 1993. The former pitcher is now retired.

In the other dugout, Thigpen played for the Sultans of Sing, managed by Cody Braun, the fiddler of Reckless Kelly and Reid Ryan, co-owner of the Round Rock Express.

Thigpen had a successful afternoon, producing two home runs his first two appearances at the plate. Several times he squared up at the plate against Kieschnick on the mound and played catcher for the Sultans through the entire game.

Thigpen played catcher at Texas and was part of the 2002 National Champion Squad under Texas head coach Augie Garrido. He spent two seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays. He briefly served as an assistant coach at Texas as a volunteer student assistant and now has a job as a sports agent in Austin.

The Sultans of Sing went up early by a score of 6-1 off of the two home runs by Thigpen. Despite a comeback aided by Kieschnick’s home run in the eighth inning, the Sultans beat the One Hit Wonders 6-4 in nine innings.

“It was a lot of fun, it was great,” said Reese Ryan, co-owner of the Round Rock Express along with his brother Reid Ryan and father Nolan Ryan. “We have 364 days to prepare for next year.”

Printed on Monday, April 23, 2012 as: Celeb game benefits youth