LYNDHURST — Alexia Jorge has been playing baseball for as long as she can remember.
“Probably since I was about three years old,” said the Lyndhurst teenager, now 14 years old. “I always played baseball.”
Jorge was a baseball player through Lyndhurst Little League, playing shortstop and pitching, before settling into her natural position of catcher. She played baseball with and against the boys, even going up against her older brother Victor a few times.
Victor Jorge is an accomplished wrestler at Lyndhurst, having reached the Region 4 tournament in each of the last two seasons.
But Alexia has stuck to her guns and played baseball, even when others tried to convince her to play softball with the girls.
“I never wanted to go play softball,” Jorge said. “I wanted to keep going with baseball. I’ve played baseball my whole life and I feel it’s more competitive with baseball.”
So when the time came for Alexia to enroll at Lyndhurst High School last September, she had one idea in mind.
“I was going to play baseball,” Jorge said. “That was always my goal.”
Jorge was prepared to reach her goal by playing for a competitive travel club team called Nutley Central. She regularly plays with and against the boys with that team.
“My teammates never had any reaction towards me,” Jorge said.
But there was one instance where Alexia was pitching and unleashed her knuckleball. That’s right, the teenager can throw a mean knuckler. Take that, R.A. Dickey.
“The rest of the team was really supportive,” Jorge said.
And never has there been a mention of the word “softball.” She won’t hear it. She’s a baseball player.
Lyndhurst High School head baseball coach Pat Auteri has been very familiar with Jorge’s talents.
“She has come to our camp every year since I became the head coach,” Auteri said. “She was at the camp when Butchie (former head coach Butch Servideo) ran it. I knew of Alexia because she played on my nephew’s Little League team. So I knew all about her.”
And when Auteri heard that Alexia was going to try out for the baseball team, he had no qualms.
“I’ve seen her play a lot,” Auteri said. “I think because I knew of her and I knew the type of kid she is that I didn’t have a problem. She really loves the game. You see her passion. She goes out there and enjoys every minute she plays.”
So Jorge earned her spot on the Lyndhurst freshman squad this year. She regularly plays catcher for the Golden Bear freshmen and sometimes gets a chance to throw that knuckler.
“I’ve been able to see some of her games,” Auteri said. “Her coach (Mark Offiitto) also gives me reports about her. She’s one of the best players we have on the freshman team.”
And later this month, Jorge will travel to Vero Beach, Florida, where she will play with the Team USA girls’ national baseball team.
Jorge earned a spot on the squad, for girls ages 14 through 17, at tryouts on Long Island and later Virginia and Maryland.
“I first wasn’t old enough to play for the national team,” Jorge explained. “So I was invited to the breakthrough series. When I got word, I was excited. I was hitting in the batting cages, when my mom (Tracy) got an e-mail. I didn’t believe it at first. But the next day, it really hit me. I couldn’t stop smiling.”
Jorge believes that she can play on the national level.
“I’m pretty confident,” Jorge said. “I know it’s not going to be easy. I just hope I do well there.”
Jorge said that she has been hitting the ball better of late, which gives her confidence.
“I hit some good shots to the outfield,” Jorge said. “I also hit some ground balls pretty hard.”
And what’s the reaction from opponents when they realize she’s a girl?
“Sometimes, I’m behind the plate and they don’t notice,” Jorge said. “I have short hair, so they can’t tell and they certainly don’t expect that I’m a girl. Then, they realize it after I take off the mask. When they realize I’m a girl, they’re all shocked. I think it’s pretty funny.”
Jorge has one more goal in mind.
“Absolutely, varsity baseball is definitely in the future,” Jorge said. “That’s what I want.”
And there’s no talk at all about playing softball with the girls.
“That’s not what I want,” Jorge said. “I think the world is starting to conform to allow girls to play varsity baseball. I want that. I want to play baseball. I feel baseball and softball are two different sports. I’m better at baseball.”
Auteri is willing to give Jorge a shot.
“We’re going to give her every opportunity to make the team,” Auteri said. “She’ll be in the mix. The door is always open. She’s a kid who plays the game she loves. She knows the game and loves the game. You can’t ask for more than that.”
Jorge is set to play baseball all summer long with her travel team. It will include a trip later this year to the Cal Ripken Experience in Aberdeen, Maryland. Jorge has already played at the Cal Ripken Experience facilities in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
As for her trip to Florida beginning May 31?
“I think it’s going to be fun and exciting,” Jorge said. “I just can’t wait.”
Lyndhurst High School freshman Alexia Jorge is making history as the first girl to ever play baseball in the Lyndhurst program. She is also getting a chance to play baseball on the national level with the Team USA camp for baseball playing girls in Vero Beach, Florida later this month. Photo by Jim Hague
Lyndhurst’s Alexia Jorge is a standout catcher and pitcher on the Lyndhurst High School freshman baseball team. Photo by Jim Hague