Throughout her young and impressive life, Alexia Jorge has been told countless times that she couldn’t do some things, usually involving the sport she loves the most – namely baseball.
The Lyndhurst High School senior has been doubted time and time again that she couldn’t play baseball, that it would be better for her if she tried to play softball like all the other girls in Lyndhurst.
To that idea, Jorge has said one thing: Bunk!
No one was going to tell Jorge that she couldn’t play baseball, even though she’s a girl. Jorge always loved playing baseball, going back to her days in the Lyndhurst Little League. When she got to Lyndhurst High School, she was told that maybe it would be better if she played softball, that she more than likely would dominate playing softball.
Jorge didn’t care. She wanted to play baseball with and against the boys. Jorge is a solid catcher and pitcher in baseball and more than handles her own. So she tried out for the Lyndhurst High inSchool baseball program and lo and behold, Jorge made the team.
Jorge made her mark with the Golden Bears as a sure-handed catcher and a dependable catcher.
She also gained some attention for earning a spot on the USA Baseball national team as the youngest member of the team. Jorge has traveled all over with Team USA and has become one of the most popular players on the team.
Jorge has also played for an old-time baseball team in upstate New York, which turned out to be a wild experience, wearing old-time wool uniforms of the 1880s and using equipment that was re-created to resemble the balls, bats, gloves and in Alexia’s case, catcher’s gear.
But the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic really put a crimp into every baseball player’s plans in 2020, especially high school juniors like Jorge, who really hoped to get a chance to play college baseball.
Yes, Jorge hoped to play college baseball, even though there were no other females playing baseball in the United States. Alexia Jorge hoped to buck the odds once again.
“I knew it was going to be tough,” Jorge said. “I knew I was going to play my senior year (at Lyndhurst High). The only thing I worried about was getting a chance to play in college. I kept pushing to compete in college baseball.”
Jorge sent out literally hundreds of e-mails to prospective colleges to see if she could apply to the school and get a chance to try out for the team. She attached videos of her playing in the e-mail along with her impressive academic resume with a stellar 3.7 grade point average.
One might think that Jorge’s fine athletic and academic package would produce a ton of interested schools, right?
“Most never returned my e-mail,” Jorge said. “I kind of expected that.”
Wait, not even a thanks, but no thanks letter. The respective schools could have done that, especially after she took the time to write.
“If they would have gotten back to me, I would have given them a call,” Jorge said. “Once they didn’t respond, it was a dead issue. I wasn’t mad. I’ve learned to accept that.”
Jorge’s recruiting video was done complete with music. She chose the background music from the movie, “Rocky.” Not the popular “Gonna Fly Now” version that is more readily known, but the music that both Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) and Apollo Creed, Jr. (Michael B. Jordan) had as they ran through the streets of Philadephia in the popular Rocky-Creed movie series.
“My mom critiqued the video to make sure that things lined up with the music,” Jorge said. “I spent many hours putting it together.”
Jorge knew to keep her expectations low regarding the letter and video.
“One of my coaches with Team USA is Ila Borders,” Jorge said. “She said she sent hundreds of e-mails and only had one school respond.”
Borders, the first woman to ever play professionally against men in the 1990s, gave Jorge some solid adv ice.
“After learning about her experience, I knew it was still a tough door to knock down,” Jorge said.
Enter St. Elizabeth University, formerly known as The College of St. Elizabeth, located in Convent Station in Morris County. It’s a former all-female school that began to allow male students five years ago and started a baseball program just two years ago.
The school was hosting a prospect camp on their campus in January and Jorge was invited to participate.
“I thought maybe the school would be a little more accommodating to me,” Jorge said. “I made the video and sent it to them.”
After the two sides played phone tag for about three volleys, St. Elizabeth head coach Arlin Freeman finally contacted Jorge and told her that they were interested in her.
“He was way open to me and told me that he thought I would be a good addition to their program,” Jorge said. “He said, ‘We’d love to have you here.’ I was like, ‘What?!?’ I was pretty happy about that.”
With that, Jorge gave a verbal commitment to attend St. Elizabeth University in the fall and next spring, she will become the first woman to play college baseball since her former coach Borders 30 years ago.
Needless to say, it was a historic moment. St. Elizabeth University is an NCAA Division III school, so they cannot offer athletic scholarships. But Jorge is being taken care of in financial aid packages.
“I did get a big break,” said Jorge, who will major in sports management at the school. She will also commute to St. Elizabeth, which is a 30-minute ride from her home. “I like to drive. I also hope to be a coach and maybe a general manager someday.”
Jorge already has two opportunities to be an intern with professional sports teams this summer.
Lyndhurst head coach Pat Auteri was more than happy for his catcher. The Golden Bears started workouts with pitchers and catchers this week.
“From knowing her and her work ethic, I knew this was going to happen,” Auteri said. “She constantly goes to hitting lessons and catching lessons. She was determined to do this and this is a testament to her work ethic. You could just tell she had her sights on playing in college. She loves the game, is a good student of the game and has a good knowledge of the game.
Added Auteri, “Don’t bet against her, because she’s been a fighter her whole life. She knew what she wanted. I don’t think she wants all the attention that comes with it. But I think she’s going to handle it all with no problem.”
Jorge likes what she’s seen at St.Elizabeth.
“The campus is really nice and I felt really comfortable when I went for a visit,” Jorge said. “I met other players and the catching coach and I seem to be on the same page. Knowing that I’m already getting that kind of support was nice.”
Jorge knows how much attention she will get from the minute she steps onto the playing field in Convent Station for practices in the fall.
“This is not just for me, but for the other girls behind me who want to play high school baseball,” Jorge said. “I think being a role model is pretty cool. I know that there is always someone out there who wants to see me fail. I can’t let that get to me.”
There’s no way that this trailblazer will allow anything bother her in her quest to continue to play the sport she loves.
Lyndhurst High School senior Alexia Jorge will make history in the fall when she becomes the first female to play college baseball at St. Elizabeth’s University in Convent Station. 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.”