One-handed ball player a standout on the diamond

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A Central Florida teen is one of the top players on his baseball team, even though he can only play with one hand.

Austin Thurman, who was born without a hand, says he’s been around the game for almost as long as he can remember.

“Baseball is a really important part of my life,” Thurman said.

He’s learned how to adjust. After he catches the ball, he makes a quick switch – pulling the glove off and moving the ball into his hand – before he throws it. The 17-year-old usually plays center field, but can also handle first base and pitching for the Brevard Heat.

“He’s just one of those players that does everything for a coach,” said Austin’s dad Stan Thurman, who also happens to be his coach this season. “We’ve never been the type of parents that try to do things for him. We just let him figure it out on his own.”

Fans, coaches and the competition watch Austin in awe.Monday night, the Brevard Heat went head to head with the Orlando Christian Prep baseball team.

“I’m like – how do you do that,” said pitcher Adam Gonzalez. “It inspires me to keep playing hard and keep going at it.”

Austin plays the game his own way. And his determination is catching on.

“Just put your mind to it and you can get it done,” he said.

Austin is a senior and home schooled. He says he’s enrolled in courses at Eastern Florida and hopes to walk on to the school’s baseball team.