Jaala Torrence was an Extra Inning Elite top 100 prospect in the class of 2020 and happens to play the highly valuable position of pitcher, therefore had plenty of options for college softball destinations. She was on a visit to N.C. State a matter of days before she visited the University of Alabama.
N.C. State was wanting an answer from Torrence quickly, which she relayed to UA softball coach Patrick Murphy.
Torrence said Murphy told her to relay a message to N.C. State: Mama called.
That call has been a rare one for people like Torrence.
Torrence, a Dothan native, is just the third in-state pitcher to sign with UA softball since the class of 2005, joining Madi Moore in 2015 and Allison Moore in 2005. In the interim, UA has signed pitchers from Florida, New York, California, Texas, Kentucky and other locales.
“You can find good players anywhere. Sometimes they’re hidden, sometimes they’re in plain sight,” Murphy said. “But obviously we want to win a national championship and we want to recruit kids that we think can do it for us.”
Torrence fits that mold for multiple reasons.
“We liked the pedigree, we liked the competitiveness, she’s got the start of a really good drop ball,” Murphy said. “Athletic. We liked that she hit in high school, and I would absolutely prefer if we could have all of our pitchers also hit. It’s better for the kid: they’re more involved with the games, definitely more involved with practices. I’m hoping both her and the other young lady coming with her, Alex Salter from Florida, I hope they both continue to hit.
“We want a competitive person because it takes a special, special kid to be a pitcher at Alabama. It’s just like being the quarterback at Alabama. When the circle is drawn around your position, that means it’s a pretty special position.”
If anyone can handle the spotlight of being a UA softball pitcher, there’s reason to believe Torrence can. Jaala Torrence is the daughter of Jeff Torrence, a former UA football player who was a member of the 1992 national championship team.
Jeff Torrence took Jaala to Alabama softball games throughout her childhood, giving her the full context of the meaning of playing for UA. Getting closer to the program in her recruiting process confirmed her desire to play for it.
“It’s an honor to go there and have an opportunity to play for such a great program,” Torrence said. “They care a lot about their players. They really care about their student-athletes as people, they want us to grow into good human beings that are productive in the world. I really loved the coaching staff, and that was a big part of my decision. Tuscaloosa just felt like home, the campus felt like home.
“There were schools that were recruiting me a lot sooner, but I knew Alabama was where I wanted to go, especially after my visit with them.”
As all on UA’s recent rosters know, the recruiting process is not as easy as wanting to go to UA. Murphy and his staff vet their recruits as intensely, if not more, than recruits will vet their potential schools.
In doing so, Murphy discovered a prospect worthy of a rare status: an Alabama-made UA pitcher.
“You can ask any coach or summer ball coach who the slowest recruiter in the country is, they’d probably say me. I want to know what I’m getting,” Murphy said. “It’s about the person first and the athlete second, so we want to get to know the kid herself. Yeah, she can throw the ball hard; we want to know what’s behind that, what she’s going to bring to the table beyond that.
“We ask question after question, and I’m sure they get sick of me asking questions that have nothing to do with softball, but they have everything to do with the success of the team. She passed every test.”