Pitching wasn’t the easiest path, but it led Alexa Romero to becoming Syracuse’s ace

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Editor’s note: Prepare yourselves for the spring seasons of Syracuse Athletics with our 2018 season preview series, which will spotlight senior runner Danielle Delgado, next-in-line hurdler David Gilstrap, former freshman tennis standout Miranda Ramirez and Syracuse softball’s sophomore ace, Alexa Romero.Alexa Romero was at a karate tournament. It was one of the sports Romero’s parents signed her up for in elementary school in an attempt to combat her shyness. She was at the tournament while both her parents were at work.She was alone and felt stranded. She didn’t want to be there. She called her mom to pick her up.“Later that day, my mom was like ‘If you don’t choose a sport, I’m going to choose one for you,’” Romero said.Her younger brother was playing T-Ball at the time and it looked more appealing to Romero than ballet classes. Her parents bought her a glove and signed her up for softball.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textMore than 10 years later, in her first season at SU, Romero went 12-7. She struck out 155 batters, including a career-high 12 against Pittsburgh in mid-April. Now, a sophomore at Syracuse, Romero enters the season as SU’s ace.“As the season went on she got stronger and stronger,” SU head coach Mike Bosch said of Romero’s freshman campaign.Kevin Camelo | Digital Design EditorRomero grew up in Aurora, Colorado less than a half hour outside Denver. With travel teams few and far between, Romero’s family formed their own team.Most of the travel teams in Colorado at the time were far away from the Denver area and the one team in the area had a coach who wasn’t what the Romero family wanted for their daughter’s softball coach.They were also tired of playing the same few teams over and over again. To solve their problem, Romero’s father, Larry, and one of his friends took charge.“My husband and his best friend both had grown up playing baseball,” Romero’s mother, Andrea Romero, said, “and they kind of went into it like ‘Hey, yeah, we can easily coach girls’ softball.’ It didn’t take long for them to realize it was very different.”The coaches were in place and members of the local recreation teams joined up. The Colorado Magic travel team was created. In their first season, they only won once and Romero wasn’t at that game.By 2008, two years later, they were competing for the travel state title in her age group.In the final inning of the state championship game, the score was tied with two outs. A runner stood on second and Romero was up to bat. She made contact with the ball, sending it between the legs of the first baseman before it eventually rolled under the fence for a ground-rule double.“I got the MVP award,” Romero said. “I still have it. It’s in this little glass thing, it was really cool. It was amazing to me because we won states.”Under her dad’s tutelage, she didn’t just build her softball skills, but more importantly found her place as a pitcher.After her first year playing softball, Romero approached her parents. She wanted to pitch. Her parents said absolutely not, citing the time and difficulty as factors behind not becoming a pitcher. But with few positions for a left-handed softball player, Romero eventually convinced her parents to let her try it.“She wanted to do it. In elementary school, it was fun,” Andrea said. “Everybody that young, they want to pitch, they want to catch. They all want to try and do different things. And then when (Romero) got to middle school, it started to become more serious.”It was in middle school that Romero started to second guess her choice. The competition became harder and most of the pitchers on the travel team traded the circle for other parts of the field.For a few months, Romero took a break from pitching, her mother said. She used to cry every time she pitched. Romero said her friends were good at it without trying even as she had to try hard.“You’re either all in or you’re all out,” Andrea said. “I would say out of all her friends that were pitchers, probably 95 percent quit at that age.”Kevin Camelo | Digital Design EditorShe only took a few months’ hiatus from pitching, though, and when she returned, it took her a while to fully enjoy the position. It wasn’t until her sophomore year of high school that Romero broke out as a pitcher. Her dad hung up his head coaching hat and Joe Bruley, one of the coaches of the Eaglecrest (Colorado) High School Raptors, took over in helping Romero grow as a pitcher.“Sophomore year is when I got really good at (pitching),” Romero said. “I fell in love with it. It’s so bad for me to say but I love being the center, being in the middle. I love having control of the game. I love having the ball, I’ve become a ball hog.“I love having the ball.”Romero knew she wanted to play softball in college when she was 8 years old. By the time she was in high school, her parents pushed her into attending recruiting camps as a way to get exposure. Romero wore a bright pink shirt at each camp to stand out.When the offers rolled in, Syracuse was the highest-caliber team to reach out. After she came to campus and walked into the Carmelo K. Anthony Basketball Center, she knew it was the place she wanted to be.On Feb. 10, 2017, Romero stepped into the circle while donning a Syracuse jersey for the first time. Facing then-No. 10 Georgia, Romero pitched six innings, tallying three strikeouts while allowing 11 hits and six runs. Her parents watched from the stands, crying. They didn’t expect her to be pitching so early in her college career.“We threw her right into the mix and started her against Georgia our first weekend out,” Bosch said. “A lot of freshmen would probably be a little nervous and she probably was a little bit nervous doing that too. I think she grew a lot that weekend, she got some experience that really helped her through the ACC season.”Despite living in Colorado, Romero’s parents plan on following the team on the road this season. They’re renting an RV and planning on attending numerous road games, usually played in warmer weather than Syracuse and less likely to be canceled.Back in middle school, Romero took a break from pitching. In high school, she finally broke through and found her college of the future. In her sophomore year at Syracuse, her parents will get plenty of opportunity to see her shine in the circle.“(Romero’s) a hard-worker. She wanted to be successful more than she was successful,” Andrea said. “So she put a lot of hard work, a lot of sweat and tears into it. I feel like a lot of kids are born talented athletes but she created that in herself.” Comments Published on January 28, 2018 at 9:33 pm Contact Kaci: [email protected]last_img

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