Photo credit: Hilltoppersports.com
By Josh Smith, Contributing Writer
Finding the perfect fit as a hopeful college athlete is easier said than done. There are sometimes many colleges and universities to choose from, which makes the decisions so much harder to accomplish. This was a reality for senior catcher Alex Rojas.
Rojas grew up in Pleasanton, Calif., only 20 miles east of San Francisco. Pleasanton is commonly known as one of the major hubs of college and MLB talent in the U.S. Rojas played his high school ball at Amador Valley High School. In his junior year, his team was ranked number one in the nation for a three-week span, but finished the season number nine, number one in California.
Following his senior year of baseball, however, Rojas decided to walk away from the game he loved.
“I quit and left everything in the dugout. The only thing I had left was an old, wood bat,” Rojas said. “There were multiple reasons why I decided to retire from baseball, and at the time, it felt like the best decision for me.”
Although Rojas first decided to retire from the game, his love for baseball brought him back, and he soon found himself at a junior college near Pleasanton. After a year or so, he was playing for another school in southern California, but injured himself right before opening day. Not long after, Rojas’ mother moved to Indianapolis. He followed behind her and joined the team at Vincennes University at the age of 21.
In his junior year of college, Rojas was on the move again and found himself on the roster of Eastern New Mexico’s baseball team and played quite well, receiving a full-ride scholarship. Injuries continued to plague Rojas, however, as he slipped two vertebrae in his back. Thinking his career was over, he got his release from Eastern New Mexico.
“It was a tough time, but I decided to play it out,” Rojas said. “I eventually sent a video of myself to a coach at Ashland in Ohio, and he sent my video to various other universities. One day, I received an email from coach Burkle, saying he wanted me to come to West Liberty University, and the rest is history.”
In his first and last year on the WLU baseball team, Rojas, a catcher, has appeared in nine games, starting in seven. He has a batting average of .313, but leads the team in on-base percentage with a solid .607. Look for his numbers to continue to increase as the season rolls on.
“If I had to choose one thing I’d want my teammates to remember me by, I hope they remember me by my heart. I have had a lot of rough situations in my life, and having to sit out all last semester due to NCAA rules, the team had to have a lot of trust in me. I continued to grind every day to give our team the edge. Competitive spirit, drive and heart; I don’t give up until that bell rings.”
After a scattered college career, Alex Rojas is in his final stretch of his collegiate career, on and off the field. We are glad he got to spend his final season here on the hilltop at WLU. Rojas, an exercise physiology major, hopes to coach baseball at the Division I college level after he graduates.