UMD Softball Team holds ceremony in honor of Mandy Matula

By KBJR News 1

April 12, 2014 Updated Apr 12, 2014 at 8:12 PM CDT

Duluth, Minn. (NNCNOW.com) -- It has been more than 90 games since the UMD Girls softball team has played on their own turf and they made it a special one.

"I think we are honored as a family for what the softball team has done for us under Mandy's name and number," said Steve Matula, Mandy's brother.

The girls' softball team held a ceremony in memory of a former teammate and friend, Mandy Matula.

Matula went missing on May 1, 2013.

Her body was found six months later in Stearns County Minnesota.

Now, family and friends are just left with fond memories.

"She just had a fun personality. She was just crazy, she always had something to laugh about, always had a smile on her face," said Megan Mullen, remembering her teammate and friend.

The team has dedicated the season to Matula and plans to honor her every year to make sure she is never forgotten.

"We wanted to have a weekend every spring that is dedicated to Mandy and obviously we felt very fortunate to finally be able to play at home this weekend," said Head Coach Jennifer Banford.

The team has also decided to retire her jersey number 14, which is the first time a UMD Division II athlete has been honored in such a way.

"She was very passionate about the number 14. As soon as I brought it up to my boss, he was very supportive of it," said Banford.

As the Matulas continue to heal in the wake of their loss, their family has gotten a little bigger.

"The team has been a part of our family now since day one and they will be forever," said Wayne Matula, Mandy's father. "With the retirement of her number and her name being here, this is something that will live forever in our hearts and the team's."

Matula was an outfielder and a pitcher for the softball team.

Posted to the web by Kati Anderson.