For Alexia Russo, it pretty much dawned on her that her days were over at Saddle Brook High School when she was looking for items for her dorm room.
That revelation came last week as the Saddle Brook High School graduate is looking forward to her days at Fairleigh Dickinson University-Madison starting this fall. She will be playing softball for the school.
“It really hit me when I was shopping for stuff for my dorm room,” said Russo.
She can’t wait to throw a ball, but that will not come until January.
Russo, a third baseman/pitcher at Saddle Brook, had surgery on her right shoulder at the end of June. As it turned out she had a torn labrum.
“I can’t even brush my hair with my right hand,” said Russo. “I have to use my left hand.”
Before the spring season the doctor said that she could play softball, but she would have to get surgery after the season ended. And there was no talk about not playing her senior season.
“I wanted to be there for my team,” said Russo. “I was not going to be a baby about it.”
As it turned out Russo pitched most of the season for the Falcons, but the pain was too much so she had to stop.
“I pitched as hard as I could because I wanted to play for my team,” she said.
As the season went along she noticed that her stuff was not like it used to be.
The rest of the way she played third base and still made major contributions for the Falcons including getting the walk-off hit in the Group 1 semi-finals to defeat Secaucus.
After three years of heart-breaking losses in the state sectional tournament, Russo helped her Saddle Brook squad win a state sectional title in grabbing the Group 1 North 1 state championship in defeating New Milford, 5-0.
Russo and the Falcons made it all the way down to Toms River and played for the Group 1 title, but fell to Haddon Heights.
Russo finished her senior season being named to the All-North Jersey first team. She had a .505 batting average, 51 hits, 21 extra base hits, 41 RBI, 34 runs scored and 11 stolen bases. Despite her shoulder hurting she still went 18-2 in her senior year in the circle and had a 1.08 ERA with 182 strikeouts and 13 shutouts.
“Alexia Russo is one of the top five players to come through the Saddle Brook program during my tenure,” said Saddle Brook head coach Darren White. “Alexia developed as a great leader and always put the team first, as she played through a serious labrum injury that required surgery after the season. Our program will miss Alexia. She is a special player, but we know she will accomplish big things at FDU.”
In her four years in the circle, Russo collected 75 victories, and struck out 681 batters, rated second in Saddle Brook history.