The reminders are there every day. Every time a Commerce baseball player has put on a cap this preseason, Evan Davis’ number or initials are on the back of it.
This will be a much different year for the Tiger baseball team, one not defined by wins or losses but one honoring the memory of Davis, who passed away in an automobile accident in July.
“There have been many conversations, and there will be many more,” Commerce coach Steve Cotrell said of the team’s coping process, “but the season will be dedicated to him.”
The coping process will include multiple tributes to honor the talented Davis, who was one of the Tigers’ top hitters last season and would have been a senior this year. Commerce will take the field with only eight players, leaving right field open, for the very beginning of the Tigers’ Tuesday (Feb. 16, 5:55 p.m.) season opener at home against Jefferson.
“He’ll start in right field even though, physically, he’s not with us,” Cotrell said.
Commerce will also retire Davis’ No. 8. His jersey will be presented to his family and his letterman’s jacket given to his twin sister, Emma.
“It’s going to be a special-type season as far as really honoring him with it,” Cotrell said.
The team is working on a sign/mural for the right field fence. Commerce has already received a memorial granite bench donated by Elbert County’s baseball program.
“That was a God send,” Cotrell said. “It was amazing.”
Meanwhile, the team continues to try to heal as it gets set to play a baseball season.
“Knowing he’s looking down upon us, we’ve got to get past that stage in which it can mentally affect you and actually play for him and not necessarily still being in disbelief,” Cotrell said.
Cotrell said his team must be mentally tough this year.
“Like I said, play for him and get past some certain barriers that I’m not sure that all of them are,” he said. “They were a close-knit group, the seniors were. That’s what I love about here in Commerce. It’s a small town and kids grow up together and it’s just becomes a family … It’s just one of this things it’s just hard to put into words sometimes.”