‘This season is Owen’s’: How Merrill baseball’s season is dedicated to a late teammate

Published: May. 23, 2022 at 12:00 AM CDT
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MERRILL, Wis. (WSAW) - When Merrill baseball takes the field for practice, the sounds of baseball ring loudly. But the thought of a fallen teammate is powering the Blue Jays.

“This season is Owen’s. It’s Owen’s season,” sophomore Erik Mann said.

That is Owen Cordova, who was his friend and teammate on multiple Merrill sports teams. He died in a car crash on September 30 while heading to school.

“It felt like the world was breaking apart,” Braiden Voigt said, who was one of Owen’s close friends and teammate on the baseball team.

Owen’s friends describe him as a lover of baseball.

Owen Cordova with Erik Mann during a summer baseball game.
Owen Cordova with Erik Mann during a summer baseball game.(Erik Mann | Erik Mann)

“He loved baseball so much. He would literally go to the gym at like 12 am in the morning just to work out in the weight room,” Voigt said

When he laced up the cleats, he was a teammate you wanted to be around. But off the field, he was a friend.

“He was the best person that has came into my life,” Voigt said, “He really inspired me to be at my best. He pushed me, he pushed everyone around him to be his best.”

The days after Owen died were a blur for those who loved him. The school honored him in an emotional football game the week after, with ‘OC’ being written on people’s wrists.

But as the months started to pass, the temperature warmed up and baseball season started without him.

“You knew it, you knew he wasn’t there so you missed him,” head coach Shawn Schultz said.

Even though Owen isn’t on the field physically, his presence is still being felt. Stitched on the side of every Merrill baseball cap is a patch that says ‘OC.’

“At the end of the day, it’s still in the back of our heads that we’re playing for Owen,” Mann said.

The patch serves as a reminder of a teammate who had a passion for baseball and a friend whose name is not forgotten.

“I gotta make him proud because every single day I wake up, it’s just for Owen,” Voigt said.

Voigt says he aspires to play baseball at the college level, just like Owen dreamed of doing himself.

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