“People talk about giving 110percent, which is impossible, the most you can give is 100 percent. Jorge had always been a 99-percent guy, and he’s found that last one percent through his mom. You can’t ask any more of him. “He’s having a tremendous season. He’s making a positive out of a negative.” That negative seemingly came out of nowhere. Jorge had just returned to San Diego shortly after last season ended and thought he was taking his mom for a routine check-up. “They were just running some tests, and all the sudden one test led to another test and at the end of the day she had to get something taken out and it happened to be a tumor,” Jorge said. “They were telling me to sign papers since she was asleep for the procedure. I was the only one there and didn’t know what to do. “When they said they thought it was cancer, that was pretty rough. Just hearing that, being the first person to know that your mother has cancer, hearing it straight from the doctor, it was more shock than anything. I didn’t know what to do. Obviously the tears started to run. … It was just the biggest shock of my life because my mom’s always been so outgoing and healthy.” When Jorge joined the Matadors in 2006, Mary Andrade quickly became known around Northridge as the team’s biggest cheerleader. “She’s Mrs. Optimistic,” Rousey said. “She’s so happy. She has a hug for everyone. She’s got `team mom’ written all over her.” When Jorge’s teammates heard the news of Mary’s illness, they instantly became one of the family’s biggest support groups. “They all prayed for me,” Mary said. “They’re so caring. That’s the most beautiful thing, everyone’s been so supportive. I can never thank them enough. The way they’ve been there and helped my son get through this, I’ll never forget that.” Convincing Jorge to remain a part of the Matadors was Mary’s job, though. “We’ve always been a very close family,” she said. “Jorge didn’t want to leave me. He didn’t want to go to school this year. I told him: `Don’t worry about it. This is your last year of college. Go study and go play ball, it’s what you’ve always dreamed of.’ “For as long as I can remember, he’s always loved baseball so much. He used to sleep with his bat when he was a kid, we’d hear him talking to it. Him and his dad would play so long outside, practicing his hitting, they didn’t even want to come in for dinner.” His parents spent so much time attending Jorge’s sporting events – he also played football and soccer through high school – that friends would joke that was all the family knew how to do. When younger brother Michael, who is a sophomore in high school, started having games that conflicted with Jorge’s, the parents would split up and make sure each son had someone to root them on, but Mary was usually the one at Jorge’s games. Jorge said he can’t recall playing a game without his mom being there – until this season. Mary was unable to attend games the first two months of the season. She finished her last round of chemotherapy in late March and was back in the stands for Northridge’s conference-opening series against Cal State Fullerton. “It was hard,” Jorge said. “Ever since I can remember, T-ball, Little League, anything, she always went to every single game. Even when I was at Clemson, she flew out to South Carolina. Like I said, I’m a mama’s boy. I was used to seeing her face in the stands. It was just one of those things, you look in the crowd and right away you find your mom. That’s how it was. Then, the beginning of this season it was so weird looking up in the crowd and knowing she wasn’t there. “When she came back, it was just an amazing feeling to look up and see my mom and dad sitting together. It’s one of those things you usually take for granted.” Although his mother’s illness has altered Andrade’s perspective, he said it doesn’t take any of the sting out of a Matadors season that features more than twice as many losses as wins. “I hate losing with a passion,” said Andrade, who is described by his teammates as an intense leader who never runs out of words of encouragement. “Any type of competitor doesn’t want to have that happen, all the losses we’ve had, but what I try to do now is I try to not let it eat me up so much. Obviously I’m hurt after every single loss, but once it’s family time, it’s family time. “I try not to let that interfere with my family. If I want to think about the game more, I wait until after dinner with them and wait until I’m back at my apartment by myself.” Andrade vows he will play baseball beyond college, but he tries not to think about the upcoming MLB draft. For now, he’s happier thinking about times like today, when his family will all be together. And as for the tough times, the family said their religious beliefs help get them through. “There’s nothing we can’t handle,” Mary said. “We keep the faith. God will help us be strong. We’ve just got to enjoy our days, we never know when it will be our last one. “It’s been a hard year in a way, but it’s made us stronger. When you have the faith, nothing is impossible. You’ve got to be positive. When things like this happen, you get that extra strength.” Mary has another checkup soon, but said she is feeling better. “So far, so good,” Jorge said. “She’s a fighter. She’s tough, that’s where I get my strength from.” Mary said she can’t think of a better way to spend Mother’s Day than watching Jorge’s game this afternoon with Jorge Sr. and Michael by her side. “It’s been a hard year for all of us,” Mary said. “But Jorgie’s made the best of it. He’s gone through so many ups and downs. He never gives up. He works so hard. That’s what I tell him, nothing is given to you, you have to work for it. “He’s been telling me, `Mom, I’ve been working hard and it’s for you.’ I tell him, `No, do it for yourself.’ He doesn’t need to do this to make me proud, I’m already proud of him.” [email protected] (818) 713-3607160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Mary was diagnosed with colon cancer. Suddenly, playing baseball didn’t seem so important to Jorge, who had transferred to Cal State Northridge for his junior season. But Mary didn’t want to see her oldest son give up playing the sport he loved, so he found a way to combine his two loves. Jorge decided he’d dedicate this season to his mother, trying to make her proud and give her something positive to think about. He has succeeded, becoming a bright spot in an otherwise bleak Northridge season. Andrade entered this weekend’s series against UC Riverside leading the Big West Conference with a .397 batting average. The senior first baseman also ranks among the conference’s top 10 in several other offensive categories, including RBIs, slugging percentage, doubles and triples. “You’ve never seen a guy play harder than Jorge,” Matadors coach Steve Rousey said. “He gives it all he’s got all the time. The situation with his mom, it’s fueled his performance. It’s hastened his focus. He wants to do good for his mom. he first time Mary Andrade went to South Carolina to visit her son at Clemson, strangers greeted her by name as she shopped in town. It wasn’t just that her son, Jorge Jr., bore a strong resemblance to her, but that he frequently spoke of her and their close bond. “I’m a total mama’s boy,” Jorge said. So it was no surprise that when his mom needed a ride to a doctor’s appointment last summer, Jorge was the one who volunteered to take her. By the time he returned to their San Diego home, his life was forever changed.