NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – Friends, family and strangers gathered Sunday to celebrate the life of Anjelica “AJ” Hadsell at the ball fields that were once her playground.
Hadsell, 18, went missing for six weeks before her body was found April 9 in Franklin, nearly 50 miles from her home.
“Today’s a day we’re going to celebrate the life of a beautiful soul taken too soon,” said Cassie Wright, event organizer. “This is the best way we thought to honor her memory and celebrate her life.”
“Playing ball, being on the field, getting dirty, having fun, being a team; this is everything she wanted and loved,” said Josh Campbell, Hadsell’s boyfriend.
The tournament was originally planned as a “Bring AJ Hadsell Home” event, but after searchers found her remains in Southampton County, the tournament became an event to remember the teenager and help her family with funeral costs.
“These past six weeks have been heartbreaking (and) heart-wrenching,” said Bryce Atkins.
Hadsell wore the number six on her jersey. The girl who was voted “Most Athletic” senior year, played shortstop for Norview High School before starting on the club softball team at Longwood University in the fall 2014. Friends say her time on the field is when she was happiest.
“She always smiled, she never had an attitude, she was an overall great player,” said Wright.
Those closest to Hadsell are still coming to terms with the reality of what occurred.
“Not having her here is the hardest thing ever,” said Chelsey Zirkle, Hadsell’s cousin. “It’s so much pain, so deep I didn’t even know it existed. I wouldn’t wish this on anybody, ever.”
Hadsell is described by loved ones as positive, up beat, competitive and caring. A life cut way too short, they said.
“There was no ounce of hate,” said Campbell. “There was no ounce of any type of sadness or any grudge, always love.”
“I never told her this, but even though I was the older one I always looked up to her,” said Zirkle. “She had a heart of gold. She was just happy wherever she was.”
A field at Tarrallton Park was dedicated to Hadsell April 11.
Loved ones said the focus is now on closure and finding the person responsible for their daughter, sister and friend’s death.
“There’s still going to be pain no matter what it comes down to, even when we find the person, we’re still gong to feel it, it’s not going to go away, but at least then we’ll have whoever is responsible.”