Ashford, AL.- Teams play for a purpose. They play for pride, they play to win and they play for championships. The Ashford baseball team is playing for something more.
Cody Hayes was an athlete at Ashford. He played football and baseball for the Yellow Jackets. Cody was diagnosed with an aggressive form of Leukemia in October of 2013. He passed away eight months later in June of 2014.
"It's weird. We know he's still with us. We play for him," said senior pitcher Hootie Harrison. "He's with us but not physically."
This would've been Cody's senior year. The baseball team is playing this season in honor of their teammate. You can find his initials written on their hats, on their cleats and on their bags.
Cody wore the number six for the Jackets. The number is painted behind home plate at Brownfield Field and senior pitcher Zack Moore is wearing the number for his friend this season.
"I was playing with a summer team out of Orlando and I had gotten the number six and I showed him a picture of it. I sent him a picture of the jersey and he asked me to wear it in high school," said Moore. "He's like I want you to wear it for me and represent me just in case. I want you to wear it, I want you to be the one. That's what I did and I'm trying to fill out the role of wearing it for him."
Moore says it's different wearing his best friend's jersey this season.
"You feel like there's a little more pressure on you wearing it for him and everything but you just gotta handle it and do what you gotta do."
Head coach Tyler Starling says one of the team's goals is to win the area because that's what Cody would've wanted. Moore says the ultimate goal is to win state.
"Everything we wanna do, we wanna play for him because we realized how blessed we are to be able to play this game," said Harrison. "We wanna play for him, we wanna play for his parents, Mrs. Alicia and Mr. Frank, and we wanna play for a purpose."
Cody's parents started the "Staying Cody Strong Foundation". The foundation raises money for cancer research, for the community and for the Cody Hayes Scholarship Fund. The first annual Staying Cody Strong Golf Tournament will be on April 30th at Highland Oaks Golf Course. Former Alabama lineman Austin Shepherd and Miss Alabama USA Madison Guthrie will be in attendance.
For more information on the foundation visit www.StayingCodyStrong.org.