It was going to be a year to remember for Alexia Jorge. Everything was finally beginning to go strongly for the Lyndhurst High School junior, who has made a name for herself as being one of the top female baseball players in the country.
For one, Jorge was all set to make history with the Lyndhurst baseball team, earning her place among the Golden Bears’ varsity, a team that was destined for greatness in 2020.
“Yeah, we were really hopeful for the season,” said Jorge, who probably would have been one of the top catchers for the Golden Bears, a team that would have contended for both the NJIC Meadowlands Division title and the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group II title if the spring seasons were not canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Everything was clicking,” Jorge said. “I felt like it was going to be my year. We worked hard the entire offseason to get the chance for this year. Everything was going well. I really thought that we were going to be pretty good. It was my junior year. A position on the varsity (at catcher) opened up for me. Other people on the team worked very hard to get ready. It was probably the best I felt in a while.”
Jorge and her Golden Bear teammates were in Florida in the middle of their annual sojourn to the Sunshine State, taking advantage of the good weather to get some preseason scrimmages in.
“We probably got about five (scrimmage games) in,” Jorge said. “That’s when we heard that the school was closed at home.”
Some other schools were already taking precautions against the COVID-19 virus.
“Some of the other teams we were scheduled to play already backed out,” Jorge said. “We left a day early (Wednesday, March 18) to come home.”
No one knew at the time the extent of the COVID-19 virus – or the devastation it would bring. As it has turned out, more than a million and a half Americans have come down with the virus, with almost 100,000 losing their lives, 10,000 of which are from New Jersey alone, the second highest mortality rate among U.S. states next to New York.
“Our coach (Patrick Auteri) told us at first that we might be back in two weeks,” Jorge said. “So we waited to see what was going to happen.”
But then, those two weeks passed and another date of optimism was offered.
“Then, things got postponed again,” Jorge said. “We were all excited to get back on the field. Once we got our hopes up, they got shot down again.”
There was a date of May 1, then May 15 that was floated about as a possible start date. Everyone seemed to be pointing toward a May 22 start date.
“The emotions went up and down,” Jorge said. “We would go from happy and energetic, then we would get hit with another bomb. It was crazy.”
Jorge said that she kept in touch with her Golden Bear brethren through social media.
“We had an app (application) on the computer that would give us workouts to do and send messages to each other,” Jorge said. “The whole team is on it. It’s a very important app to follow. It gave us workouts and updates.”
Finally, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy declared earlier this month that schools would remain closed for the remainder of the school year, thus ending the hopes of a spectacular Golden Bear spring.
But the end of the high school baseball season wasn’t the only blow to Jorge’s grand plans.
Jorge had also become a major part of the Lyndhurst American Legion Post 139 baseball program, one of the finest Legion squads in the state. All American Legion baseball for the summer has already been canceled.
However, perhaps the biggest blow came when the United States national baseball program suspended all activity for the summer because of the COVID-19 virus.
Jorge worked hard to earn spot on the Team USA national women’s baseball team last year. At barely 16 years old, Jorge was set to be the youngest player on the squad again this summer.
In fact, Jorge would have been in Florida this week for the Team USA elite development program.
“It’s always fun to travel,” Jorge said. “So I’m missing out on that.”
Then, there were the tryouts for the Women’s World Cup baseball tournament that was originally scheduled for 2021, but that worldwide tournament has been temporarily postponed due to the coronavirus and the travel restrictions placed on international travel.
The tryouts for the Team USA squad participating in the Women’s World Cup were slated to take place later this summer.
So for now, Jorge’s year of great activities and events has been limited to small workouts in her backyard.
“It’s been really annoying,” Jorge said. “I just have to keep working hard and practicing. It’s all I can do. I’m acting like a little kid again, playing in my yard, throwing the ball up and catching it. It’s brought me back to when I was a kid.”
Even though she will begin her senior year in the fall, Jorge has not begun the process of thinking about college. Jorge will also have a tough choice to make. She will either stick to her guns and continue to play baseball – with no American colleges offering women’s college baseball as a sport – or she makes the switch to play softball, a sport that is offered in college athletics.
“If the opportunity comes up to play softball in college, I may have to think long and hard about it,” Jorge said.
In the past, Jorge has never once given softball a thought.
“We’ll have to see now,” Jorge said.
It leaves such dilemma for a bright young lady to face. Knowing Jorge, she will eventually make the right choice, the best move that’s right for her.
Lyndhurst’s Alexia Jorge had high hopes for the 2020 baseball season, but the coronavirus pandemic put an end to those plans. Photo by Jim Hague
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Jim Hague | Observer Sports Writer
Sports Writer Jim Hague was with The Observer for 20+ years — and his name is one of the most recognizable in all of sports journalism. The St. Peter’s Prep and Marquette alum kicked off his journalism career post Marquette at the Daily Record, where he remained until 1985. Following shorts stints at two other newspapers, in September 1986, he joined the now-closed Hudson Dispatch, where he remained until 1991, when its doors were finally shut.
It was during his tenure at The Dispatch that Hague’s name and reputation as one of country’s hardest-working sports reporters grew. He won several New Jersey Press Association and North Jersey Press Club Awards in that timeframe.
In 1991, he became a columnist for The Hudson Reporter chain of newspapers — and he remains with them to this day.
In addition to his work at The Observer and The Hudson Reporter, Hague is also an Associated Press stringer, where he covers Seton Hall University men’s basketball, New York Red Bulls soccer and occasionally, New Jersey Devils hockey.
He’s also doing work at The Morristown Daily Record, the very newspaper where his journalism career began.
During his career, he also worked for Dorf Feature Services, which provided material for the Star-Ledger. While there, he covered the New York Knicks and the New Jersey Nets.
Hague is also known for his announcing work — and he’s done PA work for Rutgers Newark and NJIT.
Hague is the author of the book “Braddock: The Rise of the Cinderella Man.”