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UMD softball players honor slain former teammate Mandy Matula

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14.

That number will always represent Mandy Matula to University of Minnesota Duluth softball.

It was Matula's jersey number when she pitched for the Bulldogs as a UMD student. When her body was found in Mississippi River Park near Sartell, nearly six months after her disappearance, she was wearing her UMD sweatshirt, the number 14 embroidered on there, WDIO reports.

And that's the number Matula's UMD teammates wore on the back of theirs jersey for their softball home opener Friday, in honor of their friend and former teammate, the Duluth News Tribune says. The team will do the same for a doubleheader Saturday.

Photographer Dave Harwig captured this photo from Friday's opener.

"We just never want her memory to go away,” Coach Jen Banford tells Northland's News Center. “Mandy, she was one of those kids that everybody loved. It's not hard to keep someone like her in your thoughts."

The Bulldogs designated it "1FOUR MANDY" weekend in honor of Matula. It's the first time UMD has hosted a softball match on campus since 2011 – Matula's final collegiate season. The weekend opened Friday with a split against No. 13 Augustana College (a 4-1 win and a 9-2 loss). The Bulldogs play Wayne State at 1 p.m. Saturday, and immediately afterward will have a ceremony honoring Matula.

The team says the goal of the event is to raise awareness for domestic violence and honor the memory of the former Bulldog. Even Winona's softball team participated in honoring Matula earlier this year, donning the No. 14 decals on their helmets.

Post by UMD Softball.

UMD Athletics previously teamed with Matula's family to establish the "1FOUR Mandy Fund," to provide financial support for the Bulldogs softball program.

“I think it’s great that they’re doing a fund on behalf of Mandy,” Steven Matula, Mandy’s brother, told Eden Prairie News.

Matula, of Eden Prairie, was 24 years old when she went missing in May of last year. She was last seen with a former boyfriend, who shot and killed himself before police could question him. She was the subject of multiple volunteer searches in the western Twin Cities and central Minnesota. Her remains were found in October; tests showed she died of a gunshot wound to the head.

A funeral was held last November. As KARE-11 reported, Matula’s teammates from her UMD softball team took the stage at the service to unofficially retire her jersey number.

The team says her jersey will be officially retired at a later date.

No. 14 will always represent Mandy Matula to University of Minnesota Duluth softball.

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