Ross’s Long and Winding Road Leads to Softball at Saint Peters
Senior Lexi Ross recently committed to play softball at Saint Peters University in Jersey City, New Jersey. In her previous season playing for the Warriors, Lexi posted a .645 batting average with 39 runs scored. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
Lexi Ross’s college recruitment was less traditional as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but she did have the opportunity to visit the Saint Peters University campus before the pandemic surged out of control. Lexi signed her National Letter of Intent on Nov. 11. (Photo courtesy of Valley Regional Athletics )
Lexi Ross is excited to head Saint Peters University in Jersey City, New Jersey, just one trip through the Holland Tunnel away from Manhattan. (Photo courtesy of Lexi Ross )
Lexi Ross has been a huge part of the Valley Regional softball squad’s success during the course of her career. The senior outfielder recently signed a National Letter of Intent to continue her playing path at the collegiate level with the NCAA Division-I Saint Peters University softball team.
In Ross’s most recent season with the Warriors, she led off the batting order and posted a .645 batting average with 39 runs scored, 14 RBI, and 23 stolen bases. Ross had 90 plate appearances on the season, walked 11 times, and her on-base plus slugging percentage was an eye-popping 1.443.
With the 2020 spring season canceled due the COVID-19 pandemic, many athletes had difficulty showcasing their skills for potential recruitment. Ross feels lucky to have the chance to play on with the Peacocks.
“I’m really blessed to have the opportunity to continue my career in school and softball. I have put a lot of time and work in. I’m grateful for the opportunity to continue playing,” said Ross. “I had my first visit to Saint Peters in the beginning of my junior year. I fell in love with the school and softball program.”
Ross has dreamed of playing softball in college for long time. Ross really began to craft her game and dedicate a lot of her time to the sport toward the end of her middle school years.
“I’ve wanted to play softball in college since I was in 8th grade. That’s when I switched from batting righty to become a slap hitter. I knew it was something I would always pursue. I put in a lot of hours,” Ross said. “I’m just really excited to go to school and play softball. It’s an added bonus. I’m obviously going to get my degree, but I’m going to get to have fun playing softball, as well.”
One of the most exciting aspects about playing softball for the Peacocks is the school’s proximity to New York City. Saint Peters is located in Jersey City, and a trip through the Holland Tunnel is all it takes to get to Manhattan. Ross is excited to experience the culture The Big Apple has to offer, in addition to the internship opportunities available there through the school.
“It’s close to New York City, and that’s where I want to live. That’s part of why I liked it, too. I have traveled there with my family before, and I fell in love with the city. Jersey City, too,” said Ross, who is from Chester. “I think being from a small town I just really enjoy being in the bigger city. Also, how close the school is to New York City, you can get a lot of internship opportunities. I really like that part, too. I don’t know what I’d like major in yet though, so I’m going in undecided.”
While Ross’s performance with the Warriors certainly warranted attention from college coaches, Ross credits her work with her travel softball team Rhode Island Thunder to playing a big part in the Peacocks’ Head Coach Chris Stelma’s interest in her skills.
“Playing for my travel team in Rhode Island, we email a lot of coaches. Saint Peters was a college I was interested in, so we reached out to them,” said Ross. “They came to one of my games, and they were interested in my game. They called up after that game, and we visited the school.”
Ross feels fortunate to have began her process of reaching out to schools when she did. Many athletes had their timelines thrown into disarray due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Ross knows that would have made finding her dream situation much more difficult.
“I was lucky enough to start my process before the pandemic.. I was able to go and visit the school before the pandemic started. After my visit, Coach Stelma saw some of my games too. That’s pretty common,” said Ross. “Once COVID started to go up, nobody was really allowed to come watch us, but we texted and talked. I was able to meet two other girls who were going to be on the team over Facetime. We would do Zoom calls with girls and the coaches. It was still nice to be able to interact with them a little bit.”
The Thunder are one of the premier travel teams in New England and Ross feels that the program helped push her to take on the toughest competition. That experience was worth all the added investment of time and energy according to Ross.
“The Thunder are one of the best teams. That’s why I play for them. I have to drive two hours to practice during the week. It was definitely worth it. You get the opportunity to play in front of a lot of coaches,” said Ross. “My first year playing, it was kind of a shock. The competition is a lot higher. We have girls from Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, New York, and Massachusetts. It was a lot different in a good way. All my teammates were really good, and that helped me become better, as well.”
Ross’s seasons with the Thunder would mostly consist of tournaments that featured other teams of similar skill, but all over the country. Many of those tournaments were canceled once the pandemic started raging out of control.
“It’s a year-round thing. During the fall we do a lot of tournaments. We work out all through winter. Then during the summer we do a lot of tournaments, too,” said Ross. “It’s mainly tournaments and showcases. It’s more an opportunity to play in front of coaches. You just want to get that exposure and keep playing and growing with the team.”
Eventually, the long drives to Thunder practices became easier after her friend and former Valley softball star Addy Bullis—who now plays for University of Dayton—signed up with the Thunder. Ross believes that the two athletes played a big part in each other’s improvement over their years playing together.
“Addy Bullis played on the Thunder, too. We would drive together to practice. We played little league together, and we also played basketball together, as well. I knew her for a while,” Ross said. “When we’re home, we hit and pitch together. It’s nice to have someone at home to work with. It helps to have a batter to pitch to, and I get to hit off of her. She’s really good, so it was nice to work with her. She’s helped me become a better player for sure, and it’s good practice for her, as well.”
Prior to attending Saint Peters University, Ross hopes that the Warriors will be able play in 2021. It was tough for Ross and her teammates to miss out on the 2020 season. In the meantime, Ross been staying fit and trying get stronger, while staying on top of her game.
“It was really heartbreaking missing last season. We were going to have a good team. I’m really hoping that we get to play this year. It will be nice to get a season in,” said Ross. “I’ve been lifting every day. Me and Addy practice together once or twice a week. When the cages are open, I go and hit. I try to do anything I can to stay sharp.”
When Ross finally joins the Peacocks next year, she’s ready to do whatever the team needs.
“I think going in as a freshman, you want to do whatever the team needs for that year, or even a game is important,” Ross said. “I’m most excited for the memories I’m going to make. I’ve made so many with my teams so far. I love the game and the competition. I’m excited to go to the next level and keep playing, and I’m excited to further my academic career.”