Kaya Boseman remembers the day well.
It was Black Friday, 2014.
“That was the day after Thanksgiving, the sensational softball star at Ooltewah High School. “It was about a month after I visited Mississippi State to check things out down there. The players, coaches made me feel welcome and regular students were the same way.
Did anything else happen that day?
“I committed,” Boseman said.
What made the day unique was the fact Boseman’s commitment to play college softball at Mississippi State came before she ever threw a high school fastball or connected for a towering home run as a high school player.
You read that right.
An athlete usually doesn’t make a commitment that early in the recruiting process, not matter the sport. More often or not, commitments occur between the junior and senior seasons for most prospective student-athletes.
“It surprised me they wanted me that early,” Boseman said. “My dream school for some time had been Virginia Tech. I attended a camp at Virginia Tech, but didn’t I have a good feeling about the school. Then I went to Mississippi State and fell in love with the school, players, coaches and students.
“I was supposed to go to Auburn the next week, but canceled the trip. I made the decision to go to Mississippi State all by myself. Coach (Vann) Stuedeman kind of told me not to be too quick with my decision, but I knew. The reason I stuck with Mississippi State was because of the environment, the feel of family and how well they make you feel right at home.”
There is little Boseman doesn’t know about Mississippi State. Along with parents Robert and Felicia Boseman, the trio were frequent visitors to the campus and often made their way to Davis Wade Stadium for a football game.
“It felt like we went down there every other weekend,” Kayla said. “We love everything about Starkville and MSU.”
Stuedeman, hired at MSU in June 2011, has guided the Lady Bulldogs to five NCAA Tournament appearances and 33 or more wins in six of her seven seasons.
The Lady Bulldogs from the SEC Tournament in a 2-1 loss to Ole Miss and then lost to BYU (8-0) and Fordham (9-3) in an NCAA Regional.
On Wednesday, Boseman signed a national letter-of-intent with Mississippi State and became a part of the 2018 recruiting class ranked No. 21 in the country.
Boseman and Grace Fagan, of Swedesboro, New Jersey, headline the signing class. Fagan is ranked No. 19 and Boseman No. 39 nationally, according to Flo Softball. Fagan was the 2017 South Jersey Pitcher of the Year. Boseman is a three-time all-state pick and a two-time finalist for Gatorade Player of the Year in Tennessee.
Both Boseman and Fagan play for travel ball for the Birmingham Thunderbolts Premier team.
Boseman, the 2015 MaxPreps Freshman of the Year as a pitcher and an All-American her sophomore year, notched a 56-14 record in her first three seasons and notched two district and region tournament titles, two Sectional wins and a pair of state tournament appearances.
The Lady Owls finished third in Boseman’s freshman season, but after winning their state opener in 2017 lost to Gibbs and Henry County to end the season.
“Obviously, Kayla has been our best pitcher the last three years,” Ooltewah coach Jon Massey said. “She’s won a lot of games for us and I expect her to go to the circle when her number is called and do what she’s been doing the last three years – win.”
As a freshman, Boseman went 22-4, followed that up with a 19-4 mark in 2016 and was 15-6 last season. Offensively, Boseman has belted 42 home runs, including 21 her sophomore campaign. She has put up 193 RBIs with a career-high 89 in 2016.
In her three seasons, Ooltewah is a combined 114-26.
“I think Mississippi State sees her playing first base and pitching,” Massey said. “They know she hits the ball well and can give you innings as a starter and in relief. Her power numbers dropped last year, but I think she’ll come back with a vengeance with more doubles and home runs this coming season. Kayla still has plenty of pop in the bat.”
Before going to Starkville, Mississippi, for the next chapter in an already shiny athletic career, Boseman has some unfinished business at Ooltewah.
“We all want a state championship ring and that is our number one goal,” she said. “I want to hit more home runs as I can, and for sure beat my sophomore season (21). I have a goal of not walking anyone, but realistically nobody is perfect. Sometimes you have your best stuff and sometimes you don’t.”
(Contact Larry Fleming at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @larryfleming44)