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Angel in the infield
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 On May 28, the Rangers of the Newton County Recreation Dixie Boys league took to the field.

As surrounding teams warmed up to play for glory, pride and victory, the Rangers played for a lot more.

They were playing to honor the team's captain and starting catcher, Jake Hewell, who died May 25 unexpectedly after having breathing complications.

Despite the team's loss, the Rangers decided to play the already scheduled game - it was the best way they knew to honor their teammate.

"We wanted to do something in remembrance of Jake" said Director of Baseball Operations Ricky Vaughn. "He was the sweetest kid and was just a special one of a kind child."

The Newton County Recreation Department nearly decided to cancel the game Wednesday night before team members proclaimed their desire to play in honor of Jake.

"Before we could even talk to the team and let them know something, they called and said they wanted to play," Vaughn said.

After a moment of silence in remembrance of Jake, Vaughn spoke about him and the family before his teammates took the field a man down.

Playing with only eight men, leaving third base open for Jake, the Rangers took to the field for the first time without their teammate - although they felt his presence like he was looking down on them as they played.

"It felt like he was still out there with us," said Jake's best friend and Rangers shortstop Bowen Braswell. "It began to rain and then a cool breeze came across the field and we all thought of Jake at once."

On Monday June 2, the Rangers gathered to play a second game after the passing of Jake. Gathered in their uniforms with Jake's No. 25 embroidered on their left sleeves, the Rangers were joined in the third inning by a butterfly that landed in between the pitchers mound and the batter's box.

Butterflies were believed in Greek mythology to be a representation of one's soul who has been lost. The butterfly stayed with the Rangers as they mounted a 10-run third inning and eventually went on to win the game 21-9.

Other than being a standout catcher for the Rangers, Jake played football for the Cousins Middle School Cardinals where he was one of the team's leaders.

"He was a silent leader and always led with his actions" coach James Edison said. "He always gave 100 percent and I never had to tell him to do something twice."

Jake, 14, was the son of Denny and Maggi Hewell and the brother of Connor Hewell.

"He was a great brother to me," Connor said. "We did everything together - played basketball, threw the football on the beach in Panama City and challenged each other in MLB 07 on PlayStation 2."

Jake, who enjoyed adventurous activities and scary movies, was also a family man.

"He loved his family more than anything," Braswell said. "He would do anything and everything for them."

The Hewell family, who spent their family evenings and weekends either at the ball fields or the basketball gyms, never got tired of their routine.

"He wasn't scared to be who he was," said Jake's father Denny.

Jake, instead of bringing his Game Boy or favorite baseball card to fifth grade show and tell brought his cross - a symbol of his love for Christ.

"It all started with his love for the lord," Denny said. "We raised him to go through life with a game plan and stick to it."

In Jake's last game on May 24, Jake, Braswell and Denny stayed up the night before talking over strategy for the upcoming game. The trio planned to start Jake as pitcher for the first three innings then Braswell would come into close the game. Denny was stunned to see his son throw a 36-pitch three inning shutout. Sticking to the game plan, Denny took Jake out of the game to bring in Braswell.

Jake sat on the bench and watched his friends play. Denny said Jake was never upset or frustrated for being sat down.

"He was that kind of kid" Denny said. "He didn't mind taking a backseat to someone as long as it was going to help the team. He was selfless and wasn't afraid to make sacrifices."

No one ever had anything bad to say about Jake. He was loved by everyone and always fought to get what he wanted.

In a poem Jake wrote for a class project at Cousins Middle School, he mapped out his life plans.


Someday I'll play baseball as a professional

Someday I'll get married

Someday I'll have a kid

Someday I'll be rich

Someday I'll sky dive

Someday I'll do something important


Jake touched the lives of the people that surrounded him. He lifted his friends and teammates up always bringing a smile to their faces. He made the jobs of coaches he played for easy and enjoyable.

Jake's desire to live life to the fullest while remaining happy influenenced the one's he came in contact with.

He was a role model to others and will always be remembered as the kid who never quit.