UMHB baseball team rallies behind teammate grieving death of mother

Published: Apr. 11, 2022 at 9:20 PM CDT
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BELTON, Texas (KWTX) - By all accounts, baseball, and more specifically watching Cayden play baseball, was his mom’s favorite thing in the world.

So it is fitting that, after cancer abruptly took Sonya Musgrove’s life last month, it’s Cayden’s baseball teammates and coaches that are helping his family pull through.

While Cayden was preparing for some upcoming games, he had no idea his mom was at the doctor back home in Arizona. She went in because she had stomach pain, but the diagnosis was much worse than she could ever imagine.

Cayden remembers his dad telling him, “Even in the Emergency Room my mom was asking which movie they would watch that night and where they would go to dinner, since it was just a stomach ache. That night, the doctor said, ‘we think you have stage four cancer.’”

Cayden’s dad reached out to UMHB head baseball coach Mike Stawski, asking him to be there to support Cayden when his parents delivered the news.

Just a few hours after Cayden’s parents told him that his mom had stage four breast cancer, Cayden was on a flight back home to see her.

“The plane ride home was hard because I was just thinking about it, I didn’t have anything else to do. Then, my dad and my younger sister picked me up from the airport. Just seeing my younger sister so sad was really hard, right way.”

Even though Cayden is just a freshman, and even though he was hundreds of miles away from his teammates, he said he could feel the love and support.

“All of them reached out and said anything I need, they were here for me. They love me. They were sending prayers.”

Coach Stawski adds, “He can’t have 35 best friends on the team, that is not how it works. But it sure seemed like it while he was gone! If he could watch an overview of the way he was being thought about and revered when he wasn’t here, he would have felt that all come back to him.”

What Cayden and his family could see was the team wearing pink t-shirts reading “Sonya Strong” before a game that Cayden was streaming with his parents in the hospital.

Just 17 days after the initial diagnosis, Sonya passed away - and Cayden needed his teammates more than ever.

“It was empty in the house. It was hard to distract myself, so, I felt like getting back to school where I had baseball and all of my friends, and a routine – I was ready to get back to it.”

With Cayden back on campus, the team held another “pink-out” game, with a special ceremony for Sonya and a seat reserved for her in the stands.

Cayden’s mom will never get to sit in that chair again, but her presence will always be in the stadium -- not in the top row, but next to her son on the pitcher’s mound.

“I know she is going to be with me every pitch,” explains Cayden.

Coach Stawski explains further, “You are literally on an island out there. I hope that the island has one extra person on there with him every time he takes it now.”

Sonya is already leaving her mark. When the team released balloons in her honor before the game, one balloon did not fly away with the rest of them.

Instead, it stayed low to the ground and floated straight to the pitcher’s mound, where it lingered for a few seconds, then it moved along to the pitcher’s bullpen and out of the ballpark.

Cayden and his family say they have no doubt that was Sonya sending a message.

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