I once asked a high school softball player about ritual animal sacrifice

This is a feature I did on a high school softball player that ran in the Daily News-Record on June 12, 2014. I asked about ritual animal sacrifice, and it worked out.

BRIDGEWATER, Va. — After Turner Ashby High School softball practice Wednesday — forced inside by an afternoon thunderstorm — Bre Bosley stood in the TA gym discussing her leadership role on the team and what being the Knights’ lone senior means to her.

The 5-foot-7 catcher writes her teammates and coaches three-page letters before big games; she sends multi-paragraph-long group texts on the eve of every game; she superstitiously wears socks that are partially disintegrated and probably not nice enough for even the most accomplished vagrant.

Bosley ‘s teammates said she’s transformed as a leader, becoming considerably more vocal after playing the lieutenant to last year’s seniors, Brooke Carter and Blaire Miller. At the practice before the regional championship game, Bosley addressed the team — uninterrupted, unquestioned and undisputed — as the captain and told them, basically, “We got this, homies.”

This season — which continues noon Friday when TA plays Brentsville in the state semifinals at Liberty University — means so much to Bosley that, when Wednesday’s leadership discussion drifted to ridiculous hypotheticals, the 18-year-old didn’t hesitate.

Would you sacrifice an animal — say a live chicken, a la Pedro Cerrano — if it meant Turner Ashby would win the 2014 3A state championship?

“Oh, no doubt, yes,” Bosley said, laughing. “Yes.”

Bre Bosley has meant everything to the Knights this year, leading them to a 24-game win streak, the Conference 29 championship, a runner-up finish in the 3A West region and now a state tournament berth. And Friday, as usual, Bosley — who’s hitting .415 with a home run, six doubles and 18 RBIs while calling all the pitches — will be essential.

“How I see her, she’s the mom of the whole group,” said Natalie Helmick, TA’s ace pitcher. “When she talks, we get that mother talk, and you’re always inspired and you’re always pumped up, and it’s like, ‘My mom believes in me,’ and stuff like that. That’s how I see her.”

If that’s the case, then think of Bosley ‘s letters like the notes your mom used to leave in your brown-bag lunches, maybe taped to a pudding cup or a ham and cheese sandwich. They’re just longer — much longer.

About three pages each, they’re between 10.5- and 12-point-sized font, 1.5-spaced and jokingly called “novels.”

Bosley writes one letter and makes a copy for each player and coach. She doesn’t, however, sign her name. TA coach Laura Bowman said it was a month and a half before she knew Bosley was the author.

“The sentimental value it brings to the team – her first letter that she wrote, I cried,” Bowman said. “It was just unexpected. It completely caught me off-guard.”

Bosley types the letters in Comic Sans and doesn’t care that she’s using a most-reviled font — “It’s got to be fun; it’s got to be exciting,” she said. “They’re not business letters.” — because the letters are about motivation.

They’re the way Bosley feels most comfortable communicating with her team, considering herself a “decent enough writer.” Her first team letter was at the end of basketball season for the girls’ hoops team. For softball, Bosley wrote them before the conference title game, the regional semifinals and the regional title. She also wrote one Monday following the Knights’ first loss of the season — a 5-2 defeat to Brookville.

“I feel like the easiest way for me to get across a message is through a letter because everyone can read it,” said Bosley, who will attend James Madison University and plans to be a nurse. “And you can reread it. And it’s easier than having to stand up and say this is what you’ve got to do and you’ve got to do this. [With the letter], I can get everything out there. It’s not pointing fingers at everyone, either. It’s just kind of like,`This is a group thing; we’re a team; here we are.’”

The most recent letter — delivered Monday in, like the others, envelopes addressed to each of the players and coaches — reminded the team to appreciate what’s happening and to move on after the Brookville loss. The Knights were one-hit in that game.

“It was just mainly about this is our time. Like I said, ‘Carpe diem – seize the day,’” Bosley said. “‘This is our moment. Let’s go get it,’ kind of thing.”

The group texts have a similar tone.

“She’s exemplified every part of being a leader there is,” TA second baseman Olivia Cook said. “Next year, I want to be just like her as a leader. She leads by example and she knows what to say and she’s never mean about it. Last year, she was a totally different person. She never gave us novels, letters, texts — nothing like that.”

This year is different, though, and Bosley said it’s been everything she’s wanted. But, she said…

“I’m hoping for more.”

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